See the Stillwater Lift Bridge’s new, old color as restoration project makes progress

The bridge was painted gray in 1942 due to shortages during World War II, but is now being restored as part of its transformation to a pedestrian crossing.




2 minute read

Via the MN Department of Transportation:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Following an early morning inspection of the newly repainted Stillwater Lift Bridge span 9 on June 15, construction crews began removing the tarps around 8:30 a.m. from the bridge section on the far east end of the bridge in Houlton, Wisconsin. When removal of the containment system was completed, the new paint that matches the historic green color with gray railings was revealed for the first time.

A containment system was placed around the entire span to prevent any blasting media or other debris from falling into the St. Croix River below. And to be certain no debris reached the river, workers used a high-power vacuum system to clean the bridge surfaces as the tarp was removed. The waste material removed from the bridge was deposited into drums on the Wisconsin shore for hazardous material disposal.

With repairs and painting completed on the first section of the historic 1931 lift bridge, crews will move to the west and erect the containment system and begin repairs, removing rust and old paint and painting again until they reach the final span (#3) on the Minnesota side of the river.

The two-year lift bridge rehabilitation project began last August when the new St. Croix Crossing bridge opened to traffic. Work includes:

  • Repair of steel connections
  • Restoration of mechanical and electrical components
  • Repair to concrete railings
  • Reconstruction of the concourse
  • Painting the lift bridge its historic green color; and
  • Replacing lighting to replicate the original 1931 lights

The iconic Stillwater Lift Bridge was built in 1931 at a cost of $460,174 to replace a swing bridge dating to 1910. The cost was split evenly between Minnesota and Wisconsin. It has become the much-loved symbol of the city of Stillwater, nestled on the west bank of the St. Croix River. The vertical lift highway bridge formerly connected Minnesota Hwy 36 in Stillwater and Wisconsin Hwy 64 in Houlton. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

Constructed in 1931, the 10-span bridge includes six steel Parker through truss spans, one movable span of the type commonly known as a “Waddell and Harrington vertical lift,” and three concrete slab approach spans. Only six vertical-lift highway bridges were built in Minnesota and Wisconsin prior to World War II.

Transformation of the lift bridge to a bicycle/pedestrian crossing will be completed in June of 2019 and will be one of the links in a nearly five-mile loop trail in Minnesota and Wisconsin.


You may republish this article online or in print under our Creative Commons license. You may not edit or shorten the text, you must attribute the article to St. Croix 360 and you must include the author’s name in your republication.

If you have any questions, please email


Creative Commons License Attribution-ShareAlikeCreative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike
See the Stillwater Lift Bridge’s new, old color as restoration project makes progress