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fragment from a panorama of Southeast Minneapolis in about 1901... click to see Minneapolis photos at the Library of Congress
Fragment from a panorama of Southeast Minneapolis in about 1901... click for Library of Congress Minneapolis pics

Minnehaha Falls in about 1906... click to see Minneapolis photos at the Library of Congress
Minnehaha Falls in about 1906... click for Library of Congress Minneapolis pics

Minneapolis skyline from Nicollet and 7th Ave. on August 23, 1911... Daytons is the building on the left... click to see Minneapolis photos at the Library of Congress
View at Nicollet and 7th Ave. on Aug 23, 1911... Dayton's is on the left... click for Library of Congress Minneapolis pics

Minneapolis skyline in 1912... click to see Minneapolis photos at the Library of Congress
Minneapolis riverside skyline in about 1912 (tallest bldg: City Hall)... click for Library of Congress Minneapolis pics

The New York Times, February 16, 1855:

Opening of a Suspension Bridge over the Mississippi.

    On the 30th ult. the citizens of St. Anthony and Minneapolis (Minnesota) celebrated the opening of a wire suspension bridge over the Mississippi River at that place, by a procession, firing cannon, and public dinner.

    Although the Mississippi in its course between Minnesota and the Gulf laves the bank of nine prosperous and mighty States, yet to a territitory of the Union, almost without a capital, but certainly not without energy, perseverance and mechanical skill, appertains the honor of first "bridging" this noble stream with a magnificent structure, equalling in beauty, strength and durability any suspension bridge in the country.

    The work consists of a wire suspension bridge of one span of 630 feet, and seventeen feet width of roadway, connecting the western bank of the Mississippi River with Nicollett Island, about 100 yards above the first break of its waters into rapids above the falls. The roadway of the bridge is laid with white pine plank, spiked longitudinally, and breaking joints with the floor beams. In order to diminish the vibratory motion in this platform, a truss is placed on either side, consisting of heavy pieces of timber. The roadway is supported by the cable with suspending cables, made into skeins of such length as to correspond with the curvature of the main cables--the suspendors consist each of sixteen strands of No. 10 hard drawn wire. The skeins are fastened under the beams by a small casting.

    The main cables, two on each side of the bridge, have the same vertical deflection; they are composed of two thousand strands of No. 10 hard-drawn wire. The cables are closely wrapped their entire length with No. 15 annealed wire. All of the wire is prepared to resist corrosion, by being immersed in linseed oil at about half its boiling temperature.

    The cables are supported by wooden towers, built in the most durable manner, the timbers of which they are constructed being held together by heavy castings. The masonry upon which the towers rest are 15 feet in height. The lower part of the towers are designed to serve as toll-houses.

    The anchorage for the cables is obtained by drilling through a structure of limestone rocks 10 feet in thickness, and passing links of 1? inch square iron through them, into cast-iron plates, weighing in the aggregate some six tons. To the upper series of links passing through the rocks there will be placed a bar of 3 inch round iron, and this retains in position a second series of links, and a third series is in like manner attached to these. To these the thimbles of the cables will be connected. All of this iron is embedded in cement. The whole weight of the material suspended, exclusive of cables, is 183,130 pounds--the greatest load which can be brought upon the platform, the architect assumes at thirty-four horse coaches, weighing 246,000 pounds--thus the weight of all the suspended matter, exclusive of the main cables, would be 427,120 pounds.

    The general appearance of the bridge is light, graceful, and in the highest degree ornamental.

The New York Times, September 8, 1870:


The Excursionists at Minneapolis--The City and its Pleasant Surroundings--
The Falls of Minnehaha--In and About Fort Snelling.

From Our Special Correspondent.
    St. Paul, Minn., Friday, Aug. 26, 1870.

    Yesterday we carried out our intention of visiting Minneapolis, Fort Snelling, Minnehaha, and the Falls of St. Anthony. We took the carriage route over the prarie, and stopped first at St. Anthony. This city is situated about ten miles north of St. Paul, and boasts of a population of some 3,600.

    The Falls, of course, form the great feature, and are certainly most impressive in their vastness and terrific grandeur. The rapids above the Fall are especially fine, the current rushing on at the rate of about sixteen miles an hour--the descent being seventy-five feet in a mile. The perpendicular fall at the cataract itself is eighteen feet. Thirty-three mills are run by this water-power, and lumber to the amount of ninety millions of feet is sawn annually.

    Crossing the county bridge, we come to Nicollet Island, and from thence reached the Minneapolis side by the Suspension Bridge, a splendid structure, built in 1855, being the first bridge ever thrown across the river. It is 625 feet in length and cost upward of fifty thousand dollars. When crossing the bridge, the river, the mills, and the clouds of spray from the cataract all break upon the view, presenting a picture of life, beauty and activity which can hardly be excelled. The finest view of the Fall itself, I think, is from the "platform" on the west bank, although from certain standpoints at St. Anthony they present a magnificent appearance.


    Minneapolis has a population of between four and five thousand, and is a well built, handsome and rapidly increasing city. Its public buildings are most creditable in appearance, and there are, besides, many very fine private residences and showy stores. After a visit to the mills, which in point of water power are certainly unsurpassed in the United States, we resumed our carriages and proceeded down the west bank of the river to view the Falls of Minnehaha.

    These are situated on a small stream which serves as an outlet of Lakes Minnetonka, Calhoun, Harriet, &c., and flows into the Mississippi at a distance of about a mile. The fall is upward of sixty feet in height, and the width nearly fifty. The water, which is clear and pellucid as crystal, leaps into a wild gorge, or basin, down which our party scrambled, and across which, below the Falls, there is a bridge. Like Niagara, there is a passage-way behind the sheet of water, which some of us essayed successfully. The river being low just now, the fall presents a most beautiful appearance; the water descending, not in a shoot, but with its particles dessicated, and transfused drop from drop so completely, that it appears in the bright sunshine like an immense shower of glittering diamonds, sparkling and leaping down the gorge in wonderous splendour.

    We, of course, gatherered, as momentoes of our visit, quantities of the beautiful wild flowers which grow round the very brink of the cataract in extraordinary profusion; and nearly all of us have secured photographs of so picturesque a scene. One can sit for hours and and gaze upon the beauties of this fall, and see something new to admire every moment, the sunlight weaving gorgeous forms of lovliness through the spray--certainly no cascade that I have ever visited is so perfect in everything that can charm and entrance the eye.


    We next made a hurried trip to Fort Snelling, distant about two and a half miles from the Falls. The fort was built in 1822, and is now occupied mainly as a base of supplies for the Department. It was originally known as "Fort St. Anthony," and is build of lime-stone in the form of a hexagon, on a high bluff looking down upon the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, whose waters unite at its base, a ferry-boat crossing the former, and the cars winding across the latter over a high trestle-work. Walls of white quartzose and sand-stone are all around, and forest thickets add wildness to the scene.

    Once in the fort, we found that it is not, in reality, nearly so formidable as it looks; but there are veritable soldiers forming its garrison, as there were fifty years ago, and a General in command. We were received and courteously entertained by the officers, who conducted us all over the fortress, pointing out all the objects of special interest.

    We had a splendid view from the bastion of the salient angle of the bluff. On the right we could see the sloping hills which inclose the beautiful valley of the Minnesota... while on the left the dark-red waters of the Mississippi... divided by Pike Island, meet a half mile below... and reveal through the gaps and the openings of the adjacent hills the broad and beautiful amphitheatre in which St. Paul sits at the sharp curve of the great valley through which the Mississippi suddenly bends from north-east to south-east.

    It was the time of evening roll-call while we were at the fort, and the band having played the sun-down retreat, a salute of cannon was fired to do us honor, a courtesy which our party acknowledged with three rousing cheers. As we drove, at our departure, round under the walls of the fort, and crossed the ferry, the band ascended into the tower and played till we were out of hearing. The effect of this music in the calm and beautiful twilight was very fine.