The Sorlie Memorial Bridge, also known as the Red River Bridge was built in 1929 by the Minneapolis Bridge Company to connect the cities of Grand Forks, North Dakota and East Grand Forks, Minnesota. The Sorlie Memorial Bridge is a Parker through truss bridge with two truss spans and rides on rails to adapt to the constantly changing banks of the Red River of the North.
The Sorlie Memorial Bridge is a truss bridge across the Red River of the North. A truss bridge is composed of connected elements, which are typically straight, that may be stressed from tension, compression or sometimes both in response to the dynamic loads. A Parker truss bridge is a Pratt Truss design with a polygonal upper chord. A "camelback" is a subset of the Parker type, where the upper chord consists of exactly five segments. The bridge was constructed to replace an older swing bridge that was built on the same site in 1889.
This type of bridge structure has a fairly simple design and is particularly cheap to construct owing to its efficient use of materials. For purposes of analysis most truss bridges may be considered to be pin jointed where the straight components meet. A more complex analysis may be required where rigid joints impose significant bending loads upon the elements.
At the time, the bridge was the only vehicular crossing in the area, and was important for carrying U.S. Route 2, a transcontinental route. It is the oldest documented Parker truss design in the state of North Dakota, and its two spans of 283 feet (86 m) are the longest riveted Parker through trusses in the state.
The bridge was named after North Dakota's 14th Governor, Arthur G. Sorlie who served from 1925-1928. Arthur Gustave Sorlie was born in Albert Lea, Minnesota and resided in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He served as the fourteenth Governor of North Dakota from the years 1925 until his unexpected death in 1928 at the age of 54.
During the 1927 legislative session, Sorlie's political enemies conspired to embarrass him by publicly investigating the State Mill and Elevator and calling for its removal from the governor's influence because of inefficient management. Governor Sorlie died in office in 1928. His body lay in state in the rotunda of the North Dakota State Capitol.
The bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.