History of the Ramsey Park Swayback Bridge

The Ramsey Park Swayback Bridge was built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1938 because several previous bridges washed away every year but a sturdy crossing would provide value for the area. They used local granite from the North Redwood Granite Works and a Swayback design to allow ice and debris-filled water to flow over top during flooding and high flow seasons.

Trees and other verdant plant life surround the bridge and cover the banks on both sides, making this vehicle and pedestrian crossing a scenic spot even before its historical significance.

Ramsey Bridge
Work Projects Administration

Historic Ramsey Park Swayback Bridge

Crossing the Redwood River on County Road 31, also known as East Oak Street and formerly the County State Aid Highway 31, this bridge is made of battered piers, a stepped parapet, and 10 concrete slabs forming an inverted arch deck. The largest span is just over 12 feet and the total length is 183 feet, while the deck has a width of 20 feet. A count in 2008 placed the average daily traffic at 1099 people.

In 1980, the bridge was posted to the National Register of Historic Places. This meant that in the Spring of 2010 when the bridge suffered enough damage to need repairs due to flooding and regular ice flows, the County was able to request some of the funding from FEMA's Environmental and Historic Preservation Team. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is part of the United States Department of Homeland Security and was created under Jimmy Carter in 1978-79.

Restoring the Ramsey Park Swayback Bridge

Due to the bridge's historical significance, FEMA required the County to work with the Historical Society so that repairs wouldn't change the physical look, features and attributes. At that time, the County applied for and was allowed to keep the 6-inch high railings because they are a historic feature from when the bridge was first constructed.

Soon enough in 2013, the rehabilitation of the bridge's Rustic style and granite veneer was finished while keeping the classic cobblestone appearance on the sides.

They reinforced the concrete slabs, repaved the surface for a smoother transition from the road, installed new floor drains and replaced missing stones with more granite. Damaged masonry was also repointed, a process which involves chipping out the old mortar to replace with new material using a pointed trowel.

The bridge is now owned by the City of Redwood Falls and crosses through Ramsey Park / Cansayapi, the largest municipal park in Minnesota. Formerly a state park, Ramsey Park is located in Redwood Falls, Redwood County and is 256 acres. It is sometimes called “Little Yellowstone of Minnesota” with a DNR trout stream and a zoo, campground facilities and event spaces for festivals, paved hiking trails and picnic shelters, scenic overlooks, and the Ramsey Falls.

Ramsey Park Swayback Bridge Photo Gallery

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