- When it was completed in 1883, the 2,100 foot-long Stone Arch Bridge was hailed as a magnificent structure, referred to as The Great Bridge, and compared favorably to the elaborate architecture of a Roman viaduct. Interestingly enough, as it was being built critics blasted the project and its owner, railroad tycoon James J Hill, calling it 'Jim Hill's Folly.' The bridge still stands astride the river as a monument to the man and empire he created. More importantly, James Hill wanted the bridge to provide a grand entrance to the city of Minneapolis and in the heyday of train travel it did just that. Comprised of 23 arches of limestone mined in the southern Minnesota town of Mankato, Hill personally supervised its building. It remains the second oldest bridge still spanning the mighty Mississippi River. As train traffic slowly declined, the Minneapolis depot closed in 1981 and trains were routed around the downtown area. The bridge was resurfaced to accommodate pedestrians, bikers, skaters and trolleys. The bridge provides impressive views of downtown Minneapolis, the river and several old and historic flourmills.
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