Wednesday night's opening of the new bridge over the St. Croix River starts a new era and brings down the curtain on an old one.
After 86 years, cars will stop driving across Stillwater's lift bridge. The city is holding a party for the occasion ... and a classic car show was already planned. So Stillwater has combined them.
Organizers of Stillwater's Hot Rod & Vintage Car Show have found vehicles from every decade the bridge was open. Sometime around 8 p.m., which is when the new bridge is supposed to open to traffic, a parade of vintage cars will bring an end to the old lift bridge's days as an automotive thoroughfare.
Mark Desch, who owns a downtown Stillwater building, tells the Pioneer Press he's proud that his 1931 Stutz DV-32 convertible will be the final car across the bridge.
The car show organizers normally call their event "Cruisin' on the Croix," but this time they've changed it to "Cruisin' to Closure."
They're hoping 15,000 people gather for the send-off to the bridge because that's the number that attended its opening ceremony.
The Pioneer Press says two sisters who were at that 1931 opening will also be at the closing. They're now 101 and 99 years old.
The state Transportation Department will continue to own the lift bridge. After a couple years of maintenance work, they plan to reopen it for bicycle and pedestrian traffic in 2019 as part of a loop that will also include the new bridge two miles downstream in Oak Park Heights.