VIRGINIA, Minn.-A lost dog found itself in a dangerous predicament at the U.S. Highway 53 bridge construction site in Virginia last week - but workers building the bridge came to the rescue.
The existing highway between Eveleth and Virginia is being moved to make way for a planned expansion of mining at the United Taconite Thunderbird Mine. The new route will take Highway 53 across a new 1,100-foot-long bridge spanning 250 feet above the abandoned, flooded Rouchleau Pit.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported online Monday that a 12-year-old retriever somehow managed to climb down the rock wall of the pit at the construction site, and got caught behind the netting that keeps rocks from falling onto workers and equipment below. The dog had managed to reach the lower third of the rock wall.
"Workers were alerted to the dog's presence after hearing rocks falling down the wall," MnDOT reported. "At first glance they thought she was a fox" because the workers had seen foxes climb up and down the rocks without trouble in the past.
After determining that it was a wayward dog - a dog that needed help - crews tried to coax it the rest of the way down.
When that didn't work, "a worker volunteered to go up on a man lift. The pup reportedly jumped right into the basket and was an obedient guest, sitting nicely the whole way down."
The rescuer brought an extra safety harness to clip the dog in the basket. Once on the ground, the dog - named Hat Trick, or Hatty for short - was given a bowl of water.
"The pup had a collar and I.D. tag with a phone number on it. Within half an hour the lucky dog was on her way home with her family," MnDOT reported.
Officials reported earlier this month that the west pier of the bridge was nearly complete, with the east pier slated to be finished next month as work on the $156 million project continues. Crews were constructing falsework - temporary supports that will be used as the steel girders are installed starting in September.