The Minneapolis Union Depot

In 1879 James J. Hill bought the bankrupt St. Paul and Pacific Railway Company and renamed it the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Railroad. A couple months later, railroads in Saint Paul banded together to build a union station and Minneapolis leaders asked Hill to build a union station on their side of the river. The Minneapolis Union Railway Co. was formed and plans were drawn up to connect a depot on Hennepin Avenue with the short line to Saint Paul. Before the Minneapolis Union Depot could be built, another bridge across the Mississippi River had to be constructed. Engineer, Charles C. Smith was tasked with building the Stone Arch Bridge. Hill hoped the bridge could be placed above the falls until Smith pointed out potential damage to the riverbed and a possible collapse of Saint Anthony Falls. In order to get trains into the new station, and bypass the milling district, Smith designed a curving stone arch bridge below the falls. The bridge avoided going through the milling district by ending in a segment that ran parallel to the river. Construction began in during the winter of 1882. When the Union Depot was completed in 1885, the Minneapolis Tribune declared that, “Minneapolis has at last a grand depot. The true significance of this new station is that the Manitoba Road has recognized Minneapolis as a first class city and that in connection with the Stone Arch Bridge and Saint Anthony Falls it will produce an impression upon every stranger that comes this way that cannot be other than favorable and one that will make him unconsciously an advocate of Minneapolis.” In addition to the Stone Arch Bridge the dept was served by a cut off track on  the older Minneapolis BNSF Rail Bridge to the north. The Minneapolis Union Depot was used for over 25 years. The station was torn down shortly after the Great Northern Depot was completed in 1914.

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