October 20, 1999: On Wednesday, while quietly sitting at my desk, I was jolted awake by what I felt was the end of my time here on earth. Not to worry, it was just the start of the Aerial Lift Bridge millennial repair. Good thing it only happens every 100 years. Above, the north pier crane is place in the front yard of the Corps of Engineers
Wednesday, December 1, 1999: Left, Jim ‘Scrap’ Meysman guides a girder by my window as the crane prepares to lift it up to the bridge. Scrap is one of the workers who is preparing the Aerial Lift Bridge for its winter repair job. (picture taken from inside Duluth Shipping News World Headquarters). At the other end of the crane, Operating Engineer Dene operates the crane while Operating Engineer Kitty maintains it CLEAR
Wednesday, December 3, 1999: Two workers take a break from preparing the Lift Bridge for its winter makeover. They are watching the Mecta Sea depart Duluth. The Mecta Sea is better known to Duluthians as the Socrates, a ship that ran aground off Park Point in 1985. The letters are still visible under the new paint marking the ship as the Mecta Sea. This ship was here two years ago, under the name of the Union.
Above, Duluth News Tribune staff writer Martiga Lohn interviews crane operator Dene Halvorson for a story that appeared in the Saturday, December 11th paper. Guess what he is pointing at.
Below, the very same crane operator and his oiler.
The second of 4 sheaves is taken off the bridge. All four are original equipment (from 1929) and all will be replaced.
December 30, 1999: The second of 4 sheaves is taken off the bridge (the round pulley on the left middle above, and hanging from the crane at right). Three of them were taken to a junk yard; the fourth will be placed on the property of the Corps of Engineers in Canal Park. New sheaves will be installed later. The sheaves act as pulleys, allowing the cables that move the bridge up and down to do their work. All the old cables are already off the bridge, as is the balance chain. The cables will be replaced; the balance chain will be inspected and repaired if needed. The two sheaves from the north tower will be taken down on Friday.
The last sheave descends from the bridge to the front yard of the Corps of Engineers, only hours before the new Millennium rises.
CLEAR Five members of Duluth Ironworkers Local 563 ring out the new year by taking down the last two sheaves from the Lift Bridge. Above, literally, they are Mike ‘Rivit’ McDevitt and Gene Smith standing on the top girder. Again above, the lower row of 3, is Jim ‘Scrap’ Meysman, Wayne Elfin and Duane Godbout. At right, group portrait on firmer ground. Click here for larger version of picture.
December 31, 1999: The first of four sheaves is delivered to the bridge site
January 21, 2000
January 19, 2000: All of the parts of the bridge that are to be replaced or reworked have been removed. Some have been taken to the junk pile, to be replaced by new equipment (the sheaves). Others have been sent out for rehabilitation (the lift chains). New equipment is arriving at the site and will be continuously from now on. The above is a lifting girder or support that will be placed on the top of the machinery room. The girder will be attached to the new cables that will move the bridge up and down.
Friday, January 28, 2000: Two cranes and one oiler get comfort from the cold from Grandma’s Keely Heim. Actually, it is two crane operators. Berit Halverson, second from the left, handles the large crane at the south end of the bridge while his father Dene takes care of the crane at the north end. And yes, Dene’s crane is slightly bigger than Berit’s (Bear), and Dene also gets to put his arm around Keely. Oiler Kitty Ruzynski maintains Dene’s crane and every once in a while, he lets her stay inside his warm cab, while he moves men and material around his end of the bridge site. The crane (operator) takes on all crane questions on the Bridge message board.
CLEAR Not all the work on the bridge gets done on the bridge.Duluth Steel Fabrication has been doing a lot of the specialty work on the new steel beams that will soon be put in place. Above left, Brian Robinson and Dan Grayber prepare a part of one sheave bearing support for welding. Brian is heating up the steel to remove moisture prior to welding. Above right, Dan Wegleitner works on another support. Note that it is at an earlier stage. The same shaped steel is further along in the process at the left and has been welded to other pieces of the support.
Monday, January 31, 2000: Lee Popovich of Duluth Steel Fabricators works on a part of the column top that will eventually support the new sheaves when they get moved to the top.
February 16, 2000: It is hard to believe that in just a few months, the front yard of the Corps of Engineers Building at Canal Park will have green grass instead of cranes and snow and trailers and sheaves.
CLEAR The operator’s house has a brand new console. Click here for more new stuff.
February 18, 2000: The bridge rehab is now working the late shift as the shipping season is only about one month away.
Wednesday night, March 1, 2000: the Duluth Shipping News and the Lake Superior Marine Museum Association hosted an evening of slides and conversation regarding the Aerial Lift Bridge Rehab currently going on. At left, Ken, Nick, Steve and Norm wait for the show to start. Norm, a member of Iron Workers Local #563 does all the work, Steve, the bridge operator makes sure all the work gets done, Nick, the engineer, tells Norm what to do so Steve will be happy when they all leave. Ken takes everybody’s picture (except of course for the one above.
Thursday, March 2: The first new sheave goes up.
High winds on Friday (March 3) kept the third sheave on the ground
Saturday, March 11, 2000: The crane pulls cable that will be attached to the machine house at one end (on the bridge deck at left and below), and up over the sheave (above) to the counter weight at the other end.
Saturday, March 24: Saturday morning and Jim and Steve from J & S Steel put one of the balance chains together. Four chains will be attached to the two counterweights around 2 AM Tuesday morning. Then a test lift.
Workers were unable to attach the chains and lift the bridge on Sunday morning. Another attempt will be made very early, Tuesday morning. The bridge will be closed to traffic during the following hours on Tuesday morning for this procedure: 1 to 2:30 AM and 2:45 to 3:45 AM
Monday, March 27: Workers made several successful partial lifts Monday afternoon, preparing for installation of the chains early Tuesday morning. Work will close the bridge Tuesday morning for these hours: 1 to 2:30 AM and 2:45 to 3:45 AM
Thursday, March 30, 2000: The Indiana Harbor came under the ‘new’ Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge Thursday March 30 at 7:21 PM. Everything worked great except the new horn which is very wimpy. At the left is the Indiana Harbor making her turn into the harbor. In the greeting group, at the left is Paul Johnson, Project Manager for the bridge constuction, center back is Joe Litman, consulting engineer for the project from LHB Engineers and at the right is Dennis Techlin, project foreman. Dennis leaves for his next project in Milwaukee tomorrow morning . In the center is Duluth Shipping News and Marine Museum chief in charge of keeping things going, and everything else, Mary George.
Above, the men and women who brought us the Year 2000 version of the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge. Below, the last spire is reattached to the north tower as the crane across the street salutes the bridge.