History & Heritage


398010 - The Duluth Aerial Ferry/Lift Bridge - A New National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark

Monday, June 4
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Location: Greenway CD

The Aerial Lift Bridge was built from 1904 to 1905 as an aerial transporter bridge and converted into a vertical lift bridge 1929–1930. Duluth City Engineer Thomas F. McGilvray developed the idea for Duluth’s transporter bridge based on Ferdinand Arnodin’s 1889 transporter bridge over the river Seine in Rouen, France. The bridge was designed by Claude Allen Porter Turner of Minneapolis’s American Bridge Company, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel, and built by Modern Structural Steel of Waukesha, Wisconsin. Between 1929 and 1930 the Kansas City Bridge Company converted the transporter bridge into a vertical lift bridge following plans by John Harrington of Harrington, Howard & Cash of Kansas City. Harrington was a prodigy of John Alexander Lowell Waddel, inventor of the first vertical lift bridge.
Duluth’s aerial bridge is one of only two transfer bridges ever constructed in the U.S. and the first transporter bridge built in the western hemisphere. It is considered Duluth, Minnesota’s iconic landmark and has been a tourist attraction since it was first built in 1905. The bridge was built to fulfill a promise to the community of Park Point, located south of the Duluth ship canal, which was isolated after the canal was cut in 1871 and the southern half of Minnesota Point essentially became an Island. Its construction led to the increased use of Minnesota Point as a residential neighborhood and summertime resort. The Point’s popularity and the rise of the automobile led to the bridge’s obsolescence and conversion into a lift bridge.

Jon E. Zufelt, PhD, P.E., D.WRE, F.ASCE

Senior Professional Associate

Jon Zufelt, Ph.D., P.E., D.WRE., F.ASCE. is a Senior Professional Associate with HDR in Anchorage, Alaska practicing in the fields of hydraulics and hydrology, water resources, coastal processes, and cold regions engineering. He joined HDR following a 30 year carer with teh U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboartory (CRREL). Jon serves ASCE on the Annual Convention Advisory Council, the Technical Program Subcommittee, the Committee on Technical Advancement, and as editor for the Journal of Cold Regions Engineering.


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Amy Thorson, P.E., M.ASCE

District Soils Engineer


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David Prusak



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398010 - The Duluth Aerial Ferry/Lift Bridge - A New National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark

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