Aerial Lift Bridge

Written by K. Hart at
Aerial Lift Bridge
beneath aerial bridge
Aerial Lift Bridge at night
path to Aerial Lift Bridge


With its striking A-frame design and ability to lift itself vertically to allow ships to pass beneath, the Aerial Lift Bridge is an awe-inspiring feat of engineering. 

This iconic structure has been vital to Duluth's harbor since 1905. The Aerial Lift Bridge is one of the country's first transporter bridges.

The original transporter bridge operated like a gondola, built to span the Duluth Ship Canal and provide passage over the harbor. A small suspended car would ferry people and vehicles across while ships navigating the canal unimpeded. 

This type of moveable bridge technology was invented in Europe and rarely seen in America, making Duluth's transporter bridge an extraordinarily unique and innovative structure for its time.

In 1929, the bridge was converted from a transporter design to its current vertical lift structure to accommodate increased ship traffic. 

The upgrade allowed taller ships to pass through the deeper canal while providing expedient crossing for vehicles, pedestrians, and railroad cars. 

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Aerial Lift Bridge operates daily, rising vertically to angles of up to 80 degrees several times a day during shipping season.

Fun Facts & Cool Features

One of the most fascinating things about the Aerial Lift Bridge is watching its span rise 340 feet into the air in just minutes.

The colossal counterweight that drops inside the bridge tower to lift the roadway looks tiny compared to the job it does. Watching the bridge lift is an experience one won't soon forget!

In addition to its incredible functionality, the bridge appeals with Neoclassical design details like the two operator towers topped with decorative cast iron roofs. 

Illuminated by nearly a thousand light bulbs, the bridge puts on an impressive light show nightly. 

Seeing the mighty Aerial Lift Bridge glow against the night sky as ships pass below makes for an unforgettable sight on a Twin Ports visit.

Getting There

Start at your location in Duluth. If you're staying in Canal Park, you'll already be very close to the bridge.

  • Head south on Canal Park Dr toward Morse St.
  • Turn right onto S Lake Ave. 
  • The Aerial Lift Bridge will be on your left.
  • Drive over the bridge to cross over to Minnesota Point/Park Point.
  • Address: 601 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802

Alternatively, you can park near the bridge and walk across. Find parking along S Lake Ave near the bridge or Canal Park.


  • Free to walk across and watch bridge lifts. 
  • $1 toll for cars crossing the bridge.

Prices are subject to change; check the website for current pricing. 

Local Tips

  • Check the bridge schedule to catch a bridge lift.
  • Visit at night to see the bridge illuminated.
  • Park at Canal Park and walk across the bridge.
  • Grab food from local restaurants to picnic at the park.
  • Wear comfortable shoes if you plan to walk across.


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