It's now possible to admire the scenery of Minnesota's Iron Range from 200 feet above an old mining pit – and this weekend's a fine time to do it.
This month workers finished a two-year-long construction project that moved Highway 53 in Virginia. The new version of the road includes the state's tallest bridge, which spans the Rouchleau pit.
It's finally open to traffic and the Iron Range Tourism Bureau wants you to know that includes foot traffic. They've organized a Community Walk on Saturday for people to get to know the bridge up close.
What's the story with this bridge?
Naturally, a top priority on the Iron Range is iron.
So when the Transportation Department wanted to build a highway across land owned by a mining company in 1960, there was some fine print in the deal.
The state agreed that if the company ever wanted to get at the iron ore under the road, MnDOT would move the highway (as long as they got a few years advance notice).
50some years later it happened. Planning the highway move took years. Construction took two more years. The whole project wound up costing $230 million.
MnDOT says the state also bought the mineral rights under the new highway so it won't have to be moved again.
Wear hiking shoes
The bridge itself is 1,100 feet long, Finance & Commerce says.
But organizers of the Community Walk say you should be prepared to walk at least a mile-and-a-half when count getting there from a parking lot.
You've also got the option of walking a lot farther, because the new stretch of highway is part of the Mesabi Trail, which links bikers and hikers with various Iron Range towns.
According to the Duluth News Tribune, the plan is to have a couple of faces that are well-known to locals lead the walk. One is a state senator, the other is Hat Trick the dog.
"Hattie," a 13-year-old retriever, was famously rescued last year by workers building the bridge after she became stranded on a rock wall of the mine pit.
Saturday's Community Walk from 2 to 5 p.m. is free. The forecast is for a mostly sunny day with temperatures reaching the mid 60s.