One of the most poignant memorials in Minneapolis, Minnesota is the I-35W Bridge Collapse Remembrance Garden. This beautiful granite memorial honors the 13 lives who passed away during this tragedy. An infrastructure design flaw caused the heavily traveled bridge to collapse on Aug. 1, 2007. Additionally, the I-35W memorial pays tribute to the 145 injured and the heroic efforts of every day people and first responders.
Guide to the I-35W Bridge Remembrance Garden Memorial in Minneapolis
My husband and son were watching breaking news on TV when I arrived home from work the evening of Aug. 1, 2007. I initially thought the bridge collapse coverage must have happened someplace far away. I was shocked to learn that it was the I-35W Mississippi River bridge in Minneapolis.
Not someplace far away.
Only 26 miles away.
I-35W bridge in Minneapolis: A bridge my family and I had crossed many, many times and a bridge that 140,000 vehicles crossed over daily. A bridge, I later learned, that a friend normally crosses at that time. However, he needed to run an errand that took him on a different road. A bridge where people I met later had just crossed moments before it collapsed.
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Heroic efforts to save lives when the I-35W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis
I’ll never forget the terrifying images and heroic efforts on the day the I-35W bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River. Images of children being rescued from the school bus, a semi-truck on fire, mangled vehicles. And the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ security camera footage that captured the moment the collapse happened.
Here’s an ABC newscast and video of the tragedy with the I-35W bridge collapse as it happened and the aftermath.
While the I-35W bridge was under construction during the collapse, it was determined a design flaw caused the failure.
A design failure that tragically killed 13 people and injured 145 others.
Where is the I-35W bridge collapse Remembrance Garden in Minneapolis located?
Aug. 1 is a day of remembrance in Minneapolis, but you can honor all the victims throughout the year. The I-35W Remembrance Garden Memorial, open 24 hours a day, is located near the rebuilt bridge on West River Parkway in Minneapolis. You will find the memorial across from Gold Medal Park and just down the street from the Guthrie Theater and Mill City Museum.
The memorial also honors first responders and Minnesotans who selflessly and courageously stepped up to rescue others from the collapsed I-35W bridge.
The inscription on the I-35W Bridge Collapse Remembrance Garden Memorial reads:
“Our lives are not only defined by what happens, but by how we act in the face of it, not only by what life brings us, but by what we bring to life. Selfless actions and compassion create enduring community out of tragic events.”
Disasters of the Mississippi Riverfront walking tour in Minneapolis
I learned about the I-35W Remembrance Garden while taking a history walking tour, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society: Disasters of the (Mississippi) Riverfront.
While the Disasters of the Riverfront walking tour does not take you to the I-35 Remembrance Memorial Garden, my friend and I easily found it right after our tour ended. It’s located about a quarter-mile east of the Mill City Museum and Guthrie Theater on W. River Parkway in Minneapolis.
We spent a few moments paying our respects and reading their stories on the 13 pillars at the I-35W Bridge Remembrance Garden Memorial. Look closely at the pillars and you can see their names. I highly recommend taking the time to read about these individuals who are missed dearly by their family and friends.
The Disasters of the Riverfront Walking Tours is the most educational tour I took in the Twin Cities. Despite its dark tourism theme, it’s the most fascinating walking tour I took as a guest of the Minnesota Historical Society. Opinions are always my own, and I highly recommend this tour.
Best museum in Minneapolis: Mill City Museum
The Disasters of the Riverfront Walking Tour in Minneapolis meets at the Mill City Museum, a National Historical Landmark, that’s built on the mill ruins. During your tour, you’ll learn more about the source of the fires that caused the ruins.
You’ll also learn about several other disasters that occurred along the Mississippi River and St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis. Stories include another bridge collapse in 1859 as well as the collapse of the Eastman Tunnel in 1869, along with floods and fires.
Minneapolis: The Flour Milling Capital of the World
Minneapolis was known as the Flour Milling Capital of the World for five decades. That title almost didn’t happen when the Washburn A Mill (later part of General Mills) exploded in 1878. This explosion and fire killed 18 people, sent debris hundreds of feet into the air, and destroyed nearly one-third of the city’s flour milling capacity. It was later determined that flour dust, which is more explosive than gun powder, caused the disaster. *Source: Minnesota Historical Society
Check out this video of a flour dust demo recorded during the Disasters of the Riverfront Walking Tour at the Mill City Museum – the best walking tour in Minneapolis.
There are, of course, happier moments in the Twin Cities’ history to honor, remember, and even celebrate. See my Top 10 walking tours in the Twin Cities post (Minneapolis and St. Paul for a few of those.