Jack Kennelly, 1976, Minnesota Historical Society
Back in 2004 I was geocaching in an area near Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve when I came eye to eye with a woman staring at me suspiciously. After asking what the hell I was doing poking around in a dead stump surrounded by buckthorn, she went on to tell me about when her husband and his friends used to roam the heavily wooded rolling hills between what is now the Three Rivers Park and what used to be known as “Billy Goat Bridge”. Intrigued by the name, a few years back I went to the Dakota County Historical Society and looked up more information on the bridge. I spoke at length with one of the staff members there who helped me dig through numerous articles including pictures of the old bridge. I took pictures of all of the articles and have them archived here if you’re interested in learning more.
As I was reading through the old articles, I was told by the staff member that I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Jack Kennelly, who took the photo used above and whose family is well known in Burnsville, just happened to be there at the historical society that day. He sat down with me and chatted in detail about not only the bridge but also about the history of Burnsville itself.
The bridge was eventually removed in the late 1980s due to the high cost of replacement. Estimates ranged between 400 and 500 thousand dollars from the late 70s into the late 80s. The location where this bridge once stood guard is now a road-level railroad crossing without the slightest bit of homage to a structure which once carried many people on their way to and from the towns surrounding Burnsville.
Did you know about Burnsville’s Billy Goat Bridge and have any stories to share? I have heard everything from “We were too young to drive, but that didn’t stop my brother and I from trying to do a ‘Dukes Of Hazzard’ over the bridge with friends,” to, “I used to drive over it commuting from Prior Lake to Burnsville. It was a dirt road until the end. It was sad to see it go in ’87 a real loss of Burnsville’s past.” I’d love to hear any more that you might have so go ahead and comment on!