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Minnesota's Historic Bridges
Kennedy Bridge
Historic Significance

Third Street Bridge

The Kennedy Bridge is historically significant for its association with the late 19th century county-wide bridge building program in Blue Earth County. The bridge is also one of the few surviving wrought iron bridges in Minnesota.

As Minnesota's population grew early in the second half of the 19th century, a system of transportation evolved which featured railroad lines and a web a local roads leading from rural areas to shipping points along the railroads. These roads needed bridges over rivers and streams to insure year-round travel. Local township governments were responsible for building and maintaining these bridges. Recognizing the importance of reliable bridges to the welfare of its citizens, Blue Earth County embarked in the late 1860s on a program to build high-quality, permanent bridges. It is the first county in the state known to have taken over much of the responsibility for bridge building in the early 1870s. Blue Earth County was also one of the pioneering local governments in the state to shift from wood to wrought iron as the primary material for its bridge spans. Throughout the next three decades the county built numerous iron and then steel bridges at major crossings in its jurisdiction. After early experimentation with a variety of other structural configurations, the pin-connected Pratt truss became the most widely used type of wrought iron bridge.

On November 22, 1882, the Blue Earth County Commissioners awarded a contract to John Johnson to build abutments for a bridge at Kennedy's Ford. On January 4, 1883, the Commission awarded the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio, a contract to build the Kennedy Bridge and two other bridges for a total sum of $6,400. The Wrought Iron Bridge Company was one of the important early bridge fabricators and builders responsible for bringing the new structural material, wrought iron, to Minnesota for use in building bridges. By the end of the 19th century, Blue Earth County had built over 50 iron or steel truss bridges. Today, the Kennedy Bridge is one of only two surviving 19th century truss bridges in the county.

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