Prior to 1880, in order to cross the Minnesota River from Mankato to Belgrade Township, people had to use a ferry. In 1878, the state legislature approved the building of a bridge across the river. Funds were raised and the cornerstone was laid in October 1879. Because the river was important for steamboat traffic, the bridge construction included a section that would pivot to allow large boats to pass through. The bridge opened in 1880 for both pedestrian and horse traffic.
The bridge had an iron frame and a wooden floor. Overtime, flooding and traffic caused the wood to decay. Signs were posted, warning of fines being issued if people crossed the bridge going faster than a walking pace with their horses and carts. As the population increased on both sides of the river, so did the number of people using the bridge. Additional pedestrian bridges were put in and by 1907 talks turned to replacing the bridge. This new bridge, the Main Street Bridge, was opened in October 1917.
TBT or Throwback Thursday is done in partnership with KEYC News 12 in Mankato. This segment can be viewed during the noon news on Thursdays.