If this Minnesota bridge could talk

Ain’t she a looker? They don’t build bridges like this anymore.

The Kern Bridge, which has spanned the Le Sueur River in rural Mankato, Minn., since 1873, somehow has survived its 145th winter and spring flooding season. Soon, it will be gone, the Mankato Free Press says.

You probably have to be a lover of bridges to fully appreciate the bridge, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. She’s a mess right now and it’s amazing it hasn’t fallen into the river, judging by the photographs of her present condition on the Free Press website.

But the bridge is the last of its kind in America — a single-span, wrought-iron, bowstring arch through truss to be precise — and it’s coming down.

It will be removed soon, put in storage and maybe — maybe — it will be rebuilt somewhere as a pedestrian and cyclist bridge.

“I’m hoping that this area will find a place for it, but if it goes somewhere else in the state, that would be OK, too,” Lisa Bigham, acting state-aid engineer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Mankato district, tells the Free Press.

It’s 190 feet long and sits on good Mankato limestone that’s seen better days. At the time of its designation, it was the oldest bridge still in use. But it was closed to road traffic in 1990.

Supporters have been trying to raise money to save the bridge for future use and met their goal just before Christmas. Then came winter.

“I drove out during the high water to make sure it was still there, and it was,” Bigham tells the paper. “… I was worried it was going to fall in the river after all the snow. That would have been a shame after finally lining up this money.”

Some of it comes from money left over from work on the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis.

Will the bridge ever rise again? It could cost as much as $1.2 million to reassemble it somewhere.

MnDOT will only store it for 10 years while awaits a new home.