Originally posted June, 2008
I've been fascinated by bridges as long as I can remember. I suspect this comes from all the trips my family took to my parents' home town when we were kids. Not that long after I was born - as soon as Mom felt up to it, no doubt - my parents packed me up and drove me up to Winona, Minnesota to meet the extended family. The Highway 43 Bridge, which connects Winona to the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River,appeared at the end of our trip to tell us that we were finally there. It was also the scariest part of the trip - high, and, long, and narrow, it seemed to defy gravity as it rose over the River. What if it suddenly fell into the River? While we were on it? I don't recall ever cowering on the floor of the car, like somebody used to do, but I definitely held my breath.
Today the Highway 43 Bridge was closed down due to corroded gusset plates. Winona is as sleepy a little river town as one could imagine, but one might as well roll up the sidewalks too. Shoppers and commuters from Wisconsin will have now have to cross the River at Red Wing (roughly 30 miles northwest) or La Crescent (roughly 30 miles southeast). Winona hasn't been isolated in this way since 1892, and it will be really interesting to see how the people of the area will cope. I also hope they get it patched up before I get up to Winona in August!