Column: This is history in the making

This past week, we witnessed history — and was it ever fun.

It was impressive to stand by the podium for the Aug. 2 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new bridge and observe the sea of people who turned out to witness the event in the middle of the morning on a weekday. Not only was the seating area packed, but there were many observers on the hills next to the Beach Road bridge watching from a distance.

The weather cooperated, giving us a beautiful summer day. (It’s lucky the bridge didn’t open a day later when the festivities would have been literally dampened by rain).

In the evening, I joined hundreds of others taking one last ride across the lift bridge before it closed. I rode with Jim Cashman aboard one of his tuk tuks.

Throughout the day I couldn’t help but think how thrilling it was to be part of history in the making — I can only imagine what it felt like for those who have awaited the bridge for decades.

The Gazette has covered the news from Stillwater for almost 150 years and the reporters and editors of the past have been witness to events that turned into history. In the pages of the Gazette from July 2, 1931, reporters captured the celebration of 15,000 people that witnessed the birth of the Stillwater Lift Bridge, and we are proud to carry on the tradition of writing down history as it happens.

Perhaps what stuck with me most was the feeling of jubilation, especially in downtown Stillwater as the Lift Bridge was sent into its retirement from motor vehicle traffic. It was one giant party, and everyone seemed excited.

It’s impossible to know what the future may bring, but it’s safe to say there’s optimism in the St. Croix Valley.

This was a milestone worth marking. Congratulations to all those who worked so hard to see this project become a reality — whether by lobbying for the bridge, serving on a stakeholders group, helping build the structure itself or contributing in another way. Enjoy this moment.

It’s history after all.

Jonathan Young is the managing editor of the Stillwater Gazette. Contact him at [email protected]