More than 150 years ago, Minneapolis was founded on the banks of the Mississippi River. The river and St. Anthony's Falls, a natural waterfall, provided power for the sawmills and flour mills. Today the mills are part of the city's history, and the riverfront is a beautiful parkway that enriches the lives of citizens and visitors.
The Stone Arch Bridge is an early landmark. Completed in 1883, it tied the railroad to the new Minneapolis Union Depot. It remains the only arched stone bridge on the Mississippi River. At 2,100 feet long and 76 feet high, it has 23 arches.
Imagine 600 men working day and night, year-round, to complete the bridge in just under two years.
It continued to be used as a railroad bridge for years. In the 1990s, the Minnesota Department of Transportation repurposed the bridge as a pedestrian and bicycle trail. Today it is a key link in the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail. It is an Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The riverfront trails will make you fall in love with Minneapolis. Created and designed for walking, jogging and biking, the trails have historic markers, and are clean and well-kept. On a warm September day, the city's energy permeated the air. People of all ages were enjoying the day - from joggers and walkers to those using walkers or wheelchairs and parents with strollers.
It was as if the river that gave the city its first breaths is still giving its gifts today. As I strolled along the bridge, I saw the locks and dams that now control St. Anthony Falls and the river. I pondered a city's ability to use the river for commercial purposes, for beautification and for the well-being of its citizens. Minneapolis is doing just that. I understand that summertime sees a number of festivals in the area.
Take your phone and/or camera with you when you visit the trail and walk across the bridge. The views are fantastic.