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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Strange Span: 1907

Strange Span: 1907

Circa 1907. "Aerial bridge. Duluth, Minnesota." Suspended Car Transfer over the Duluth Ship Canal. The gondola could carry 60 tons of cargo across the 300-foot channel with minimal obstruction of the shipping lane. After modification for service as a vertical lift, the span became known as the Aerial Lift Bridge. 8x10 dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

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Aerial Bridge Gondola

I was wondering how the gondola moves. After doing some research I found this photo (click to enlarge):

What was the energy to move these two vertical cables? Steam engine? Electric engine? Where was located the engine? How it was possible to turn these two lateral pulleys? Any suggestion is welcomed!

[News articles from 1905 describe the "aerial ferry" as being electrically powered. - Dave]


I believe the only construction of this kind that moves under an actually used bridge is this one from 1911 (incidentally in my hometown of Rendsburg, Germany)

I heart Shorpy!

Paging Mr. Ferris

Reminds me of a Ferris wheel and it's only marginally more efficient in moving cargo...

Steve Miller
Someplace near the crossroads of America

Pont transbordeur

Yes, only one Aerial Lift Bridge (pont transbordeur) still remains in France. It is at Rochefort on the Charente River.

Images 1: Bernezac

Images 2: Structurae

But the most famous french one is that of Marseille which was destroyed in 1944 during WWII.

Don't forget also the Biscaye Bridge in Spain.

Great picture, Dave!

Do you have such great pictures about the old Duluth Incline (1891-1939) which was going up to the Beacon Hill Pavilion?


I have lived near Duluth almost my entire life and this is the first time I've ever seen a good picture of it, before it was converted. It is the symbol of the city - Thanks Shorpy!

More of the same

There are two such bridges here in the UK.

The one at Middlesborough is still operational, while that at Newport is closed for repair.


The same bridge, now modified as a vertical lift. Note the navigation light tower is still there are are the spires at the top of the towers.

Les Demoiselles des Rochefort

There's a bridge just like this in the marvelous opening sequence of the 1966 Jacques Demy movie "Les Demoiselles des Rochefort." Technicolor and dancing; it's really something to see.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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