The city of Mankato is the new owner of the historic wrought-iron Kern Bridge, one of the oldest bridges in Minnesota, that traversed the Le Sueur River from 1873 to 2020 in Blue Earth County. It is the only bow-string arch bridge in Minnesota, and is the longest of its type in the the United States at 189 feet. The bridge was removed, carefully dismantled, and loaded into sealed containers last winter.
Eight parties bid on the bridge, including the cities of Fergus Falls, and Sherburn and Watonwan Counties. Mankato’s plan is to place the Kern Bridge less than five miles downstream from the original site over the Blue Earth River, connecting Land of Memories Park to Sibley Park.
Mankato will receive federal funding — 80 percent of cost — to relocate and rehabilitate the historic bow-string arch bridge. The rehabilitation meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and it will be relisted on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Kern Bridge will become an asset to the existing trail system and many users are anticipated, area residents as well as visitors. Blue Earth County, who partnered with MnDOT to save the bridge, fully supports Mankato’s plan as the Kern Bridge carries much cultural significance in southwest Minnesota.