Jay Cooke State Park Closed Through October

By KBJR News 1

July 3, 2012 Updated Jul 3, 2012 at 7:15 PM CDT

Carlton, MN (Northland Newscenter) -- One of Minnesota's most visited parks will be closed indefinitely through the summer of 2012.

There is no way in, and no way out at Jay Cooke State Park. Reservations are no longer being accepted while flood damage is being assessed and repaired.

The St. Louis River pounded Jay Cooke State Park's Historic Swinging Bridge.

"The bridge itself was destroyed. We believe the water at its highest was three or four feet over the deck of the bridge," said Courtland Nelsen, the Director of Parks and Trails for the Minnesota DNR.

The bridge is just one of many structural casualties left over from June's massive flood.

"We've initially estimated the damage to this corridor between 35 to 40 million dollars," Duane Hill, the District Engineer for MnDOT said about Highway 210.

Highway 210, the main artery of the Park has washed out roads preventing tourists from coming in the whole summer.

"We are going to be looking at innovative methods to speed up the construction so that we can rapidly replace the road," said Hill.

Some of the innovative methods include bridging the gaps of the washout roads with bridges.

"Unique types of bridge abutments and any other type of bridge superstructures that can be built more rapidly than our more traditional bridge construction methods," said Hill.

Construction is more complicated with the swinging bridge.

"Of course anything that was built in the 1930's we don't have the materials on hand, we don't have the craftsman, we'll have to do a lot of evolution," said Nelson.

In the meantime, people need to stay out of Jay Cooke.

"We have to keep people out because we don't have the resources needed to come in here now to do the rescues that are needed," warns DNR Conservation Officer Mike Scott.

It's for your own safety while Jay Cooke recovers through the summer.

DNR officials say that Jay Cooke has around 250,000 visitors a year. The Park will lose approximately 175,000 dollars in camping and lodging revenue while the park is closed.

Zach Vavricka
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