The Short Line Bridge

The Short Line Bridge crosses the Mississippi River in Minneapolis between the Franklin Avenue and Lake Street bridges. The original 185 foot high, 600 foot long, Short Line Bridge was completed in the 1880’s. This 3 span, truss bridge was only wide enough for a single track . In 1887, the Saint Paul Globe reported that a pair of horses belonging to Charles Miller, the pop manufacturer, wandered onto the bridge. Some men who saw the animals succeeded in driving them across the bridge before the next train came along.


In 1902 the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad hired the American Bridge Company to replace the bridge with a dual track. The new truss spans were supported by stone piers nearly 100 feet high. The bottoms of the two piers were reused from the old bridge. The Milwaukee Road used the scenic setting of the Short Line Bridge on the Mississippi River Gorge in a variety of promotional materials and it became famous on the Hiawatha route from Milwaukee to Minneapolis.


Passenger service ended in 1971. After the Milwaukee Road was purchased by Canadian Pacific the Short Line continued to service grain elevators along Hiawatha Avenue, but over the years, raffic dwindled down to less than one train per day and the second track was removed in the 1990’s. Canadian Pacific has discussed demolishing the Short Line Bridge if the last remaining mill on Hiawatha Avenue closes. Hennepin County has proposed purchasing the bridge for pedestrian and bicycle use if railway operations come to an end.