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Rolling on the River: 1908

Rolling on the River: 1908

The Mississippi River circa 1908. "Steamboat landing and Union Station at St. Paul, Minnesota." Sidewheelers and sternwheelers on view include the Minnesota, Hiawatha, Idler, Wanderer II and F. Weyerhaeuser. View full size.


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The old Robert Street bridge

from which high vantage point the "Rolling on the River" photo was taken. Union Depot and the riverboat docks are off to the left, out of this photo. Visible at the downriver end of the cutwater pier is The Shack referred to by tcrosse. There are actually TWO bridges in this photo - a wagon/pedestrian bridge above, and a pivoting or "swing" railroad bridge that crosses diagonally below. Both were built about 1885. The railroad lift-bridge, to which tcrosse refers, replaced this swing bridge in 1913. The upper bridge was replaced in 1924 by a beautiful and substantial structure which is still with us today, and is on the National Register of Historic Places: )

This view from under the bridge

shows the depot and the riverboat docks. The curved track in the foreground is coming from the swing-bridge.

A View from a Bridge

in this case the old Robert Street Bridge.

More About F. Weyerhaeuser

Frederick Weyerhaeusers 11,000 sq ft home was on the top of the bluff, overlooking this point just out of the picture to the left.

His next door neighbor was railroad magnate James J. Hill.

Both houses still stand.

The Shack

This looks like it might be part of the old railroad lift-bridge c. 1885 at Robert Street, which might be the vantage point of this photo.

The Idler

Caught once again in that 'time-suck' called Shorpy. I found this photo pretty interesting, in particular the Idler which seems to not be powered. I did a quick search on the web and found a restaurant in South Haven, Michigan on a riverboat called the Idler. Could they be the same? Then I found this article. And finally this article (the boat behind the Idler, the Wanderer, is also referenced in the article). So the Idler is still afloat and in use 108 years after this photo and 118 after it was built.

The shack

Can anyone tell what the shack on pilings in the middle of the river is for? It's heated so used year round. Also a sharpening wheel outside the door. Must be cutting a lot of something - fish?

The F. Weyerhaeuser

I grew up in the Northwest, where Weyerhaeuser timber land is quite is common. I knew it was a large company but never knew their holdings spread as far or have been around as long as they have been. It wood (sorry for the pun) seem this ship is named after founder grandfather F. Weyerhaeuser, who died six years after this picture.

One of the things that keeps me coming back to Shorpy is finding how long so many companies have been around. I love the history lessons and getting lost on the information highway.

The photo that has everything (almost)

Let's see, there's a river, a city, railyards and sheds, steamboats, steam locomotives, rolling stock, two autos (and a hint of a third), horsedrawn wagons, signs, a fine depot, smokestacks, shacks, warehouses and offices, a distant ridge covered in buildings, homes, trees, people working and people idling - all this at first glance. Mighty busy and it isn't even a panorama! I'll be lost in this one for awhile!

The Minnesota

You can still take an excursion boat from downtown St. Paul upriver to Fort Snelling, the Soldiers Home, and Minnehaha Falls.

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