Because State Highway 210 remains closed due to severe flood damage, Jay Cooke State Park in northeastern Minnesota also will remain closed indefinitely, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The highway, which provides the only vehicle access to the park, is impassable due to mudslides and large, washed-out sections.
Damage estimates are not yet available for the park, but the DNR anticipates losing approximately $175,000 in camping and lodging revenue while the park is closed.
Reservations at the park are being canceled through Oct. 31. Full refunds are being issued to customers. No reservations will be taken until further notice.
Jay Cooke State Park is the ninth most visited of Minnesota's 75 state parks and recreation areas. It had more than 302,000 total visitors in 2010 and nearly 35,000 overnight visitors.
Damage to the campground and park buildings was minimal and no one was hurt, but the park's iconic swinging bridge over the St. Louis River was severely damaged. There has also been extensive damage to the park's 50-mile trail system, and water and sewer service remain unavailable.
The Willard Munger State Trail, a popular paved bike route that was severely damaged by the flooding, remains closed between Carlton to Duluth until further notice.
The DNR urges people not to go near Jay Cooke State Park or the closed section of the Willard Munger State Trail, because conditions are still very unsafe. Those curious about flood damage are advised instead to view the photos online at www.mndnr.gov.
For updates on park and trail conditions, visit www.mndnr.gov or call the DNR Information Center, 651-296-6157 or toll free 888-646-6367 toll-free between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The DNR is also providing photos and updates via Facebook (Minnesota State Parks and Trails) and Twitter (@mnstateparks).
Jay Cooke State Park Facts
Best known for its iconic swinging bridge, which leads across the thundering St. Louis River, Jay Cooke State Park features nearly 50 miles of trails for bikers, hikers, horseback riders and skiers. The Willard Munger State Trail connects visitors to the nearby town of Carlton.
The park also features a historic cemetery, year-round interpretive programs, 78 campsites, five camper cabins and two group camps.
Year established: 1915
Park size: 8,125 acres
302,052 total in 2010 (ninth most visited Minnesota state park overall) 34,915 overnight in 2010
1924 - Forest service builds the first swinging bridge.
1934-35 - The CCC builds the bridge with the familiar stone pillars we see today
1950 - The swinging bridge is destroyed in the now second largest flood on record. This flood was recorded as 42,000 cubic feet per second. Like the 2012 flood, the smaller pillars were knocked down and reports were that one main pillar went too. The decking was destroyed.
1953 - The bridge reopens. The concrete caps seen on top of the pillars were added to raise the bridge level. It has been raised a total of 7 1/2 feet since it was originally built.
Late 70s/early 80s - Bridge was tightened it up and redecked.
June 2012 - The bridge is destoyed again. This flood is reported by MN Power to be 55,000 cubic feet per second.
Distance from St. Paul: 135 miles
A total of 24 buildings, including three miles of gravel road,three parking lots (one paved and two gravel), city of Thomson water supply, WLSSD sewage system, historic district with two log and stone CCC-era buildings, 50 miles of trails including nine miles of paved bike trails and 32 groomed cross-country ski trails.
Animal species - 46 including white-tailed deer, black bear, timber wolves and coyote.
Bird species - 173 including pileated woodpeckers, marsh hawks and great blue herons.
Reptiles and amphibians species - 16.
780 Highway 210, Carlton, MN 55718