old61 Temperance River Bridge and Roadside Parking Area

Temperance River Bridge and Roadside Parking Area

Located: On MN 61 in Lake County, between Schroeder and Tofte.

Access: On State Hwy 61. Four parking areas along the side of the road.

Bridge Data

Bridge #: 5088

Design: Reinforced concrete arch, 40 foot span.

Constructed: 1931.

Also On:

Historic Context: Early reinforced concrete arch bridge built during construction of the north shore highway.

Status: On active State Highway, rated as structurally adequate.

Roadside Data


  • Parking areas in ca. 1935
  • Gabbro Stone walls, staircase, and pedestrian bridge supports, ca. 1957.

Historic Context: Early roadside development on Minnesota Trunk Highways.

Status: Open to the public, most structures in poor condition.

More U.S. 61 Articles

North >> Birch Grove School Driveway

South >> Service Drive at Schroeder

The roadside parking area at the Temperance River between Schroeder and Tofte features several rustic structures surrounding its centerpiece: the Temperance River Bridge, a concrete arch structure completed in 1931.

Plans dated from 1933 show that the Highway Department added metal railings, stone pedestrian walks, and stairs to both sides of the bridge, as well as a stone staircase leading down to the river south of the bridge on the west side of the road.

The four parking areas, one on each side of the highway, both north and south of the bridge were added between 1935 and 1938. The parking area on the southeast side was originally intended as a pedestrian overlook. All were originally fenced with rustic guard rails.

At some point (in ca. 1948), the roadside was further developed (plans for this work are missing). Each of the parking areas had its rustic guardrail replaced by a gabbro stone wall. In addition, a curved stone staircase leading from the southeast parking area to trails under the bridge was probably also built at this time. A railing was added to the bridge's southwestern wing-wall in 1948, probably to go along with another new set of stairs leading down to the river, replacing the old stairs added in the early 1930's (these new stairs appear in plans dated 1971).

Between 1971 and 1976 the pedestrian walks on the bridge were heavily modified. The old stone walks, stairs, and railings on the bridge were removed and were replaced by bituminous. Since then, the southwest stairs have been closed off, while the gabbro walls around the parking areas have fallen into disrepair. Other stairs of more modern construction have been added around the site to provide access to the areas under the bridge.


Photos - taken in April, 2010.

Northbound view on Highway 61 at the Temperance River bridge, with two of the parking areas visible ahead. Note the sidewalk on the bridge, which was formerly paved with stone with stone steps leading down from the road.

The stone wall at the southeast parking area.

The crumbling remains of the stone wall at the southwest parking area.

The set of gracefully curving stone stairs leading down from the southeast parking area.

The concrete arch bridge carrying Highway 61 over the Temperance River. Note the crumbling concrete foundation on the right, which may have once supported an earlier crossing.

Another view of the bridge from further downstream.

A mysterious circular stone wall at the base of a pedestrian bridge below the highway crossing. It appears to be made of the same material as the stone walls and the curved stairs. Possibly an old fire pit?


  1. Construction Project Log: Control Section 1601.
  2. Railing and Stairway Details: Bridge 5088, Minnesota Department of Highways, June 29, 1933, revised Aug 2, 1933.
  3. Construction Plan for Roadside Development, State Project 1601-01, 7-17-1935.
  4. Railing on Southwest Abutment Wing, Bridge No. 5088, State Department of Highways, 6-25-1948.
  5. Construction Plan: State Project 1601-18, 10-28-1971.
  6. Temperance River Roadside Parking Area, MNDOT Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory Report.

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