Q and A: Roise Writes the Book on Stillwater Lift Bridge

In the Community

When the Minnesota and Wisconsin transportation departments needed an author to write the history of the venerable Stillwater Lift Bridge, Charlene Roise stood out as a logical candidate for the job.

The bridge historian and president of the Hess Roise historical consulting firm in Minneapolis has completed numerous cultural and environmental research projects related to the built environment.

A graduate of Boston University, where she earned an advanced degree in Preservation Studies, Roise also happens to have strong ties to the Stillwater area. She even served on a committee dedicated to saving the lift bridge.

Roise tapped into that knowledge to complete a 147-page book called “The Saga of the Stillwater Lift Bridge: A Preservation Case Study.” Minnesota and Wisconsin transportation departments commissioned her to write the book as part of the environmental mitigation process for the new St. Croix Crossing.

Drawing in part on newspaper reports from the 1800s and beyond, Roise deftly guides readers through the history of the Stillwater Lift Bridge and the tumultuous 50-year journey to building the new crossing over the St. Croix River.

The Minnesota and Wisconsin DOTs released the illustrated book in May. Hardcover copies are available for purchase through the Minnesota Department of Administration’s bookstore, or readers can download a free electronic version on MnDOT’s website.

In the following interview, Roise discusses the book, her interest in history and some of her current work. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.


Q: What are you currently working on?

A: One that I am really excited about, and other folks in my office are taking the lead on this, we are helping Dominium with renovating the buildings at the Upper Post at Fort Snelling for housing for homeless veteran families.

My first real job was as a tour guide at Fort Snelling and I biked by these building at the Upper Post a zillion years ago and I’d think, ‘Somebody has got to do something about these buildings or they are going to fall down.’ It has been a concern of mine and many people for a long, long time. And a lot of people have taken a try at it and have not been able to pull it off. Dominium’s got both the financial wherewithal and also the smarts to do it.

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