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MNHS Remembers 35W Bridge Collapse in Collections and New Display

Bridge piece commemorating 10th anniversary to go on exhibit at Mill City Museum July 28 to Aug. 30

On Aug. 1, 2007, one of the most pivotal and painful events in recent Minnesota history occurred: the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge during rush hour, killing 13 and injuring 145. Over the years, the Minnesota Historical Society has documented this disaster in its collections, including acquiring several post-collapse pieces of the bridge.

To help commemorate the 10th anniversary, MNHS will put a remnant of the bridge, a gusset plate, on display at Mill City Museum. A National Transportation Safety Board investigation identified the gusset plates were a likely cause of the collapse; they were too thin and failed under the weight of the bridge and its traffic. The display will be in the museum’s Mill City Commons and will be free and accessible to the public from July 28 to Aug. 30.

Across the river in St. Paul, visitors can also view the emergency exit door of a school bus involved in the bridge collapse, signed by all the children and adults on board, in the Minnesota History Center’s “Then Now Wow” exhibit.

MNHS collections have additional bridge remnants and signage, a shirt worn by a first responder on the scene, various photos throughout the bridge's history, and items from workers who rebuilt the bridge in 2008. The Minnesota State Archives holds Minnesota Department of Transportation plans for the bridge’s original 1967 construction and is currently processing MnDOT records concerning the aftermath of the collapse.

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