INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) — All this week, the WCCO Morning Show is touring the Twin Cities in their Suburban Spotlight. For Wednesday, Mike Augustyniak touched down in Inver Grove Heights, which is about 30 minutes southeast of Minneapolis, in Dakota County.
The city got its name in the 1850s from the Irish town of Inver and the German town of Grove. Following a population boom typical of the surrounding suburbs during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, it is now home to 35,000 people.
It’s also the location of a piece of living history. Whether you know it as the Dillinger Bridge or the Rock Island Swing Bridge, there are 120 years of history on the site.
“It was built in order to take a look at train traffic, mainly between South St. Paul and Chicago and part of the livestock industry,” Mayor George Tourville said.
Closed to rail traffic in 1982, it was converted into a toll bridge for cars until 1999. Ten years later both Washington and Dakota Counties began to tear the then-abandoned bridge down until, according to Tourville, then Gov. Tim Pawlenty put a moratorium on its demolition.
“We were a couple of weeks away from all of this being gone,” Tourville said.
Today the bridge serves as a tie to the region’s history, a scenic lookout, a haven for wildlife, and a gathering spot. It’s also a popular resting spot for cyclists on the Mississippi Regional Bike Trail. This summer it will have even more to offer, including a comfort station and additional picnic areas.
From the swing bridge you can see the Pine Bend Refinery, which shares both Inver Grove Heights and Rosemount as a mailing address. If you’ve ever flown out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, you’ve got this place to thank, because every drop of jet fuel that goes into the planes there comes from here.
Another interesting thing about Inver Grove Heights is that it’s home to the $40 billion global agribusiness company CHS.
WCCO’s viewers also told Augustyniak that he couldn’t miss Drkula’s 32 Bowl on Cahill Avenue East. He said to try their chicken sandwich while you bowl a game, or watch or join the volleyball league on their four outdoor sand courts.