A History of Marine's Red Bridge

This summary document was assembled from various newspaper articles, documents, and personal observations. The primary historian referenced was James T. Dunn. Review of documentation is available upon request.
- Christopher Strand, 5/31/2023


Red Bridge Timeline

1. The first Red Bridge was built in 1885 by Nels Thompson, a local carpenter, for $75. He also designed and built the Marine Village Hall in 1888.

2. In 1899 the Red Bridge was repaired by Nels Thompson and in 1912 was ordered taken down by the city. A local resident, Nels Hockerson, who was a local jack-of-all-trades completed the new bridge in October 1913 for a cost of $650.

3. After 55 years in 1968 the bridge was closed from degradation due to reported excessive snowmobile use. Fund raising was initiated, a huge Marine auction raised over $1000, other donations from hundreds of friends of the Red Bridge raised enough to pay the entire cost of $4500.
A local carpenter, Al Stiles Sr. and a local repair crew performed the repairs and repainting. Barricades were placed at each end of the bridge to prevent snowmobiles from entering. The Red Bridge was reopened during a ceremony on July 4th, 1970.

4. After 12 years in March 1982, the city requested a cursory inspection of the red bridge. This was performed by Maier Stewart & Associates Inc. (St Paul Mn Consulting Engineers) They stated, "The bridge is currently in need of fairly extensive repairs, both structural and cosmetic. Although there is not an imminent safety threat, the city should take corrective action as soon as possible." Three years later, in June of 1985, the bridge was closed. The main beams and braces were degraded due to rotting wood. Estimated replacement cost on bids ranged from $31,000 to 36,500 and included pressure treated lumber for the rebuild quotations. An additional inspection was performed in October 1985 by MNDOT confirming stringers, bearing devices and piers had a condition code of 2. This meant the Red Bridge should remain closed until repairs were completed.
Fund raising was initiated early on as the city would not commit due to the large cost of rebuilding. The "Save the Red Bridge" committee was formed and began raising money during the summer of 1985. Several fund­raising projects occurred including names routed on the boards. In June of 1986, $4000 was provided by the committee to the city to initiate the purchase of lumber and associated tea rd own / rebuild of the bridge.
The committee had engaged with the Camp Kiwanis who had the Sea Bees performing service project work at the camp. The Sea bees chose the Red Bridge as their training/service project along with other Camp Kiwanis Projects. The bridge was identical except for a higher railing for safety standards, and steps were added to the west end bridge entry. Painting labor was donated by Scandia Painting. The final cost of the bridge was about $15,000 and was reopened during a ceremony on July 4th, 1987.

5. In 2008 work was performed on the Red Bridge. I have observed new surface boards with names routed on top and a new railing design added. I have no information on any other improvements.