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Wood, Concrete, Stone, and Steel

Minnesota’s Historic Bridges

2008
Author:

Denis P. Gardner

Wood, Concrete, Stone, and Steel

From International Falls to Minneapolis to Winona—the first illustrated history of the bridges of Minnesota

Like never before we are aware of the crucial place of bridges in our lives. Wood, Concrete, Stone, and Steel documents and celebrates a wide range of the state’s rural and urban spans. Historian Denis P. Gardner tells the remarkable stories of their construction and makes a compelling argument for the value of preserving our bridges and the cultural heritage they carry.

This marvelous book reminds us that bridges have played a significant role in Minnesota’s history, shaping the pattern of its development as well as the visual character of its landscape. In these pages, Denis Gardner provides a wide-ranging guide to the varied spans that have supported and ornamented our state’s roads and railways, from the monumental Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis to the spidery steel Soo Line High Bridge near Stillwater and the pagoda-topped Lester Park Rustic Bridge that once graced my hometown of Duluth. Equally important, he tells the compelling story of the visionary people, historic events and technological advances that helped make Minnesota the special place we know and cherish.

Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Like never before we are aware of the crucial place of bridges in our lives. The spans that warranted little notice are now at the forefront of public and political debate and we are reminded of the rich history—and the uncertain future—of bridging in Minnesota.

Historian Denis P. Gardner documents and celebrates a wide range of the state’s rural and urban spans, telling the remarkable stories of their construction and impact on Minnesota life and culture. From Pratt trusses to bowstring arches, Wood, Concrete, Stone, and Steel describes nearly every bridge type found in Minnesota, including railroad spans, and features more than 225 illustrations of historical and extant bridges. Gardner details the development of engineering and construction innovations (complete with a guide to trusses) and traces the fascinating politics and personalities behind the task of creating and maintaining safe, and often beautiful, crossings.

Through arresting photographs and lively narrative, Gardner makes a compelling argument for the value of preserving our bridges and the cultural heritage they carry and brings to life their importance in Minnesota’s past, present, and future.

Awards

Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians – David Gebhard Award — Honorable Mention

Wood, Concrete, Stone, and Steel

Denis P. Gardner is an award-winning historian who has documented properties for the National Register of Historic Places and the Historic American Engineering Record. He is the author of Minnesota Treasures: Stories behind the State’s Historic Places.

Eric DeLony is former director of the Historic American Engineering Record.

Wood, Concrete, Stone, and Steel

This marvelous book reminds us that bridges have played a significant role in Minnesota’s history, shaping the pattern of its development as well as the visual character of its landscape. In these pages, Denis Gardner provides a wide-ranging guide to the varied spans that have supported and ornamented our state’s roads and railways, from the monumental Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis to the spidery steel Soo Line High Bridge near Stillwater and the pagoda-topped Lester Park Rustic Bridge that once graced my hometown of Duluth. Equally important, he tells the compelling story of the visionary people, historic events and technological advances that helped make Minnesota the special place we know and cherish.

Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Gardner’s exhaustive history of bridge building in Minnesota is a refreshing reminder that we once lived in a state where government—and the private sector—took pride in creating artful infrastructure. With the help of historical photographs, Gardner offers a rare glimpse at the engineering feats that characterized Minneapolis’s early years.

Minneapolis Observer Quarterly

A year ago, this book might have been of greatest interest to bridge aficionados and historians. Now, with the twisted remains of the I-35W bridge splayed out along Bohemian Flats on the West Bank and a new bridge rising from the river in its place, everyone’s a bridge fan. Gardner’s book comes along at the perfect time to capture that burgeoning interest.

The Bridge

It’s a propitious moment for Wood, Concrete, Stone and Steel to appear. Denis Gardner buttresses our understanding of some of the state’s more notable bridges with detail on their predecessors and peculiarities, detail that reaches beyond the pocket-protector crowd.

Star Tribune

Tilts toward the technically inclined, but you don’t have to be an engineer to enjoy the noteworthy tidbits and fascinating photos.

Star Tribune

Bridges are a part of our infrastructure that I took for granted. My disposition has changed since reading Denis P. Gardner’s Wood, Concrete, Stone, and Steel—Minnesota’s Historic Bridges. Now, when I approach a bridge, I find myself thinking about the bridge’s structure, the material used to build it, and its purpose, wondering what story lies behind its construction. Gardner clearly has high interest in and passion for his subject. . . . The context in which Gardner provides information is interesting, and at times fascinating, making the book a great reference work or one for short readings in short bursts. The 225 photos and informative captions provide easily accessible facts and trivia and charming windows into Minnesota’s past, making this an excellent coffee table book.

Pioneer Press

The context in which Gardner provides information is interesting, and at times fascinating, making the book a great reference work or one for short readings in short bursts.

Twin Cities Daily Planet

This book is full of gorgeous black-and-white photos of interesting bridges in use, under construction and in sexy close-ups. . . . Don’t be scared away by the technical details. Wood, Concrete, Stone, and Steel could stand on the strength of its photos alone. The words are just there to seduce you into bridge nerdism.

Big River

Gardner richly details each site and structure as only a preservation historian can.

Architecture Minnesota

Gardner captures the interest of both the historian and the engineer . . . he allows us to look back in time and appreciate the extensive role bridges have played in the history of Minnesota.

Minnesota History