Water was the mainstay for life in Minneapolis in the early years. An unknown woman ran the first ferry using a canoe in 1840. The first suspension bridge to span the Mississippi opened January 23, 1855. It was the start of beautiful things for the Minnesotans of the time. See above for more information on this era of transportation in Minneapolis.
Once waterways were well established, railways were next on the list. The St. Paul and Pacific Railway built the first tracks between St. Paul and St. Anthony in 1862. From those modest beginnings, the Great Northern was born—going over the river and into Nicollet Island in 1866. Next, the first all-rail line from Minneapolis to Chicago was opened in 1867. What a dizzying pace of growth in such a short time.
Several of the famous railways were build in the next twenty-plus years under the auspice of James J. Hill, manager of St. Paul, Minneapolis, & Manitoba Railway. Because of the increasing demand for transportation, such historic venues as the Stone Arch Bridge were built, the Stone Arch Bridge in 1883. By 1889, twenty independent railway lines ran from Minneapolis to all regions around the country. Minneapolis was even plugged into the Canadian Pacific Railroad at Sault Ste. Marie by the Soo Line, finished in 1887.
Large quantities of cargo were freighted around the country via the railway. In 1891, an average of 1,080 cars a day were entering Minneapolis, hauling everything from wheat to corn to household goods. By 1900, seventy-five percent of cargo in America went by train. Things seemed prosperous until World War I and the Great Depression. Passenger capacity plunged by fifty percent in by 1925, and it grew worse after World Word II when people started driving cars in earnest. The railroad industry has been suffering ever since.