Simley High students honored for helping save part of historic bridge

A group of Simley High School students in an advanced-placement history class got involved in the effort to save the 1890s-era Rock Island Swing Bridge in Inver Grove Heights earlier this year.

Their campaign included emails to Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and sure enough, the governor soon signed a moratorium on the demolition, says Finance and Commerce. That gave preservationists time to raise money to help the city of Inver Grove Heights take steps to turn the remaining portion of the span into a “recreational pier” that will be open to the public for fishing, viewing wildlife and watching riverboats.

The students — whose efforts included holding fundraisers, collecting bridge-related oral histories and setting up a bridge preservation Facebook account — received a preservation advocacy award from the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota.

“They are working to engage others through this new technology,” said Bonnie McDonald, executive director of the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota. “We think that is very significant — that they are working to raise awareness for cultural landmarks and historic landmarks among their peers and using that technology. We felt it was a model for others across the state to engage a new audience in the preservation of their landmarks.”

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