Jay Cooke State Park Reopens

By KBJR News 1

October 22, 2012 Updated Oct 22, 2012 at 10:06 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) -- There is some good news coming out of Carlton County.

Jay Cooke State Park is partially reopened to the public, after being shut down due to flood damage.

"I was in Alaska when the flood happened and it sounded catastrophic but it's great that I'm actually back the day before it's opening up. When I'm trying to get outside this is where I usually come because I know I'll have a great time," said Casey Korby of Cloquet as he was walking into Jay Cooke with his family.

June's flood inflicted massive damage to Jay Cook's trials, bridges, and roads.

The stretch of Highway 210, close to the entrance near Thompson was washed out after the torrential rains fell, leaving a gaping hole that's now filled in.

Repairs like this road were crucial to reopening the park in 2012.

"They filled in a gap that required about 1,700 semi loads of gravel to fill in it back up....it was about 45 feet deep and about 150 feet wide," said Gary Hoeft, Park Manager for Jay Cooke State Park.

Now, 38 miles of hiking trails are open and eight to ten groomed cross county trails will be open for the winter.

There are areas of the park that are still damaged and in need of repair like the historic swimming bridge right behind me. It's iconic for Jay Cooke State Park and park officials say that it will be repaired and restored hopefully by this time next year.

"The plan is to replace it exactly as it was, we plan on starting in the spring. The design contactor has been awarded the contact to do the design work on it and finish by the end of the summer of next year 2013," said Hoeft.

"As they go hiking on the trials they might come across the damage I mean some of it's rather jaw dropping to see it's not all fixed yet," said State Park Naturalist Cristine Hiller.

Even though the work isn't completed yet, those working in, and visiting Jay Cooke are thrilled to finally have an opening day in 2012.

Jay Cooke was closed for four months this summer.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says it usually gets around 302,000 visitors a year.

Zach Vavricka

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