Monday, July 22, 2024
Dakota County Historical Society
To preserve, interpret and promote the history of Dakota County.

The Spiral Bridge was less roadway and more roller coaster! The bridge was built in 1895 with an interesting spiral that wound down to the Hastings business streets. The reason for the design was simple – it had to be high enough for steam boats to pass under it while still exiting onto Main Street.

The Wisconsin Bridge and Iron Company received the contract for construction and engineering, but the individual responsibility for the idea to make a spiral bridge remains a mystery that spawned local controversy half a century after the bridge was completed when people claiming to have designed it (or their descendants) waged a battle in the local press. The leading contenders are Oscar Claussen, John Geist of the Wisconsin company, Hastings businessman John Meloy, local inventive genius B. D. Cadwell, and former Speaker of the Minnesota House and employee of the Wisconsin company, Lawrence H. Johnson, who maintained he suggested the idea based on a design by Horace Horton of the Chicago Bridge and Iron Company for a bridge design initially intended for Winona. Regardless of who designed it, the bridge served both horse-drawn and engine powered vehicles for 50 years. Many people went out of their way just to cross it.

The sad tale of the bridge’s demise spanned many years and ended in a pocket veto by Governor Luther Youngdahl in 1951. The Dakota County Historical Society retained attorney David Grannis, Jr., who presented a resolution to the State, asking to take title and preserve the approach. A bill nearly to this effect was passed by the Senate and House, but was vetoed by the governor after a lobbying effort to do so by several Hastings businessmen at the Capitol. Dakota County’s famous, if not dizzying, landmark was razed in 1951.

Visit one of these Dakota County Historic Sites