Historic 1873-built bridge may find home, on Fergus Falls riverfront
Area News | Published on April 15, 2020 at 9:12am CDT | Author: Louis Hoglund0
A historic bridge, probably one of the oldest in Minnesota, may end up in Fergus Falls—as part of a $5.3 million downtown riverfront project.
The 1873-constructed bridge over te Le Sueur River was dismantled last year. Because of its historic designation, MnDOT was looking for a home to relocate the bridge.
There was some interest acquiring the bridge for Pelican Rapids. Anticipating the modification of the city dam on the Pelican River, the walkway at the top of the dam would be removed—creating a need for a pedestrian crossing from the Post Office to the parks and business district.
Though the Kern Bridge was described as essentially “free,” there was a range of transport, engineering and assembly costs that would be absorbed by the recipient.
In Fergus Falls, those total costs were estimated at about $3.6 million—but with 80 percent covered by federal funds. Still, based on those numbers reported in the Fergus Falls Daily Journal—the local cost could exceed $700,000.
For Pelican Rapids, it was probably a bridge too costly—and actually longer than necessary. The bridge is about 190 feet. The Pelican city dam crossing is only 90 feet.
Built not long after the civil war, the “Kern Bridge” in southeastern Minnesota is the last of its kind in the state, and probably the entire nation. It was believed to be the oldest bridge left standing in Minnesota.
Bridge was eyed as possibility in Pelican, for city dam crossing
The Kern Truss Bridge, spans Le Sueur River in Blue Earth County, and is the last of its kind in the state, and probably the nation.
The graceful design, engineered and built not long after the Civil War, brings respect from modern engineers. Mankato area residents have long admired the beautiful, sweeping arch design and its sheer staying power. The deck is 15 feet wide, and it spans nearly 190 feet.
Named after John Kern who was the original owner, the Kern Bridge has some unique qualities. The bridge was constructed by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company at the time when the demand for bowstring arch bridges was considerably high. Patented by Squire Whipple in 1848, the first known bowstring arch bridge was built over the Erie Canal in New York.
Bowstring arch bridges were very common during the 1870s and 1880s because they were easy to fabricate, transport, and build.