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The Swinging Bridge that until about a year ago connected both sides of the St. Louis River within Jay Cooke State Park was being rebuilt this summer.

Star Tribune, Dennis Anderson

Jay Cooke swinging bridge reopens for visitors

  • Associated Press
  • November 1, 2013 - 6:35 PM

DULUTH, Minn. — The swinging bridge at Jay Cooke State Park reopened to pedestrians Friday, more than a year after flooding badly damaged the northeastern Minnesota park's signature bridge.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources allowed a group of children to be the first to cross the restored bridge near Duluth, saying they may have the chance to bring their own kids across it someday.

Park Manager Gary Hoeft told a crowd of dozens at a news conference, "We're just terribly excited to have this reopen to the public," WDIO-TV (http://bit.ly/1aOMOln) reported.

At more than 200 feet long, the span recreates the appeal of the bridge's past, according to the DNR.

Pedestrians had used the bridge to cross the rushing St. Louis River for generations before last year's flooding.

"To match some of their old work was difficult," John Talarico, 61, said. He had planned to retire from his masonry job at Stretar Masonry before learning his company was doing the bridge repair work.

He said he put off his retirement so he could take part in the project.

"I think the span makes our work look even better," Talarico said.

The bridge does bounce, but not nearly as much as it did when the first version was built in the 1920s.

DNR Interpretive Naturalist Kris Hiller said back then, visitors couldn't run or jump on the bridge, and no more than five people could be on the bridge at one time.

"A sign attached to that bridge warned our visitors," Hiller said in the news conference.

The DNR said flooding has damaged the bridge more than once. An informational pamphlet from the park says flooding tore up the structure in 1939 and 1950.

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