Anderson: Retro look planned for new Cooke Swinging Bridge

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 13, 2013 - 11:38 PM

The historic Swinging Bridge near Duluth was swept away by floodwaters last summer but should be rebuilt in time for visitors drawn by the fall colors.

hide

The Swinging Bridge that until about a year ago connected both sides of the St. Louis River within Jay Cooke State Park is being rebuilt — a summerlong project that is expected to again be an important attraction for park visitors.

Photo: Star Tribune, Dennis Anderson

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

– About 1 in the morning of Wednesday, June 20, 2012, the assistant manager at this popular camping and picnicking destination just south of Duluth decided to evacuate the 30 families and groups staying at the park in tents and RVs.

Already, Interstate 35 tunnels in downtown Duluth were filling with floodwater, and streets in Grand Rapids, Minn., were reported to be awash in 6 inches of rain.

Alerting the state’s Arrowhead region that the storm might grow even worse, the National Weather Service declared that a “life-threatening flash flood event appears to be developing across a large part of northern Minnesota.”

Still the rains came.

“I was on duty that night, and a deputy sheriff and I decided it was time to evacuate,’’ said Mark Luschen, assistant manager at Jay Cooke State Park.

Luschen wasn’t worried the campground itself would flood because it, like the park’s buildings, was far enough removed from the floodplain of the now-raging St. Louis River.

“We worried instead that the road getting out of the park might wash out,’’ Luschen said. “We waited until daylight, about 5:30, and awoke the campers and told them we had to leave.’’

Some RVs and other gear were left behind because their weight, Luschen worried, might stress the fast-deteriorating road out of the park.

Luschen was correct to be concerned.

Gates at the Thomson Dam upstream of the park were already wide open, allowing as much water as possible to rush through. But the dam was built more than a century ago without emergency spillways. So the St. Louis, whose torrents would peak at about 55,000 cubic feet per second, was rushing over the levee on the dam and around its sides.

Soon Hwy. 210 in Thomson would wash out, and the torrents would turn their sights on one of Minnesota’s most iconic landmarks, the Swinging Bridge at Jay Cooke.

The suspension bridge, originally built in 1924 by the U.S. Forest Service, has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors to the park over the years, while also providing foot access to a vast, 25-mile web of hiking and cross-country ski trails on the south side of the St. Louis River.

As initially constructed, log cribs supported a “swinging’’ walkway of wood planks that hung 18 feet above the river. At its entrance, a sign read, “Not more than five persons should cross bridge at one time. Jumping, swinging, running or other unnecessary movement on the bridge is dangerous.’’

A decade later, a much stronger suspension bridge replaced the original structure. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and completed in 1935, the new bridge featured stone pillars on either side of the river, replacing the log cribs.

In 1941, another CCC crew raised the bridge deck 4 feet.

Their work wouldn’t last.

In May 1950, during what is now the second-worst flood ever recorded in the region, spring snowmelt sent raging floodwater down the St. Louis. Measured at 42,000 cubic feet per second, the deluge wiped out the Swinging Bridge while leaving largely intact its stone support pillars.

A reconstructed Swinging Bridge would not open until 1953.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland - WP: C. Allen 4 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: G. Holland 3
Baltimore - LP: W. Chen 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 5
Kansas City - WP: D. Duffy 2 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Carrasco 0
Seattle - LP: J. Paxton 4 FINAL
Toronto - WP: J. Happ 14
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Bassitt 2 FINAL
Detroit - LP: K. Lobstein 0
Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano 1 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Houston - LP: N. Tropeano 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: D. Holland 4
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0
Arizona - WP: J. Collmenter 6 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: R. Nolasco 2
LA Angels - LP: C. Wilson 4 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Samardzija 8
San Francisco - WP: S. Casilla 5 FINAL
Los Angeles - LP: K. Correia 2
Colorado - LP: T. Matzek 0 FINAL
San Diego - WP: E. Stults 1
Chicago 27 FINAL
NY Jets 19
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Ottawa 2 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
Ottawa 2 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
New Jersey 5 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Detroit 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 3 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
Washington 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Dallas 4
Anaheim 5 FINAL
Colorado 2
Colorado 0 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Arizona 5
Arizona 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Time left for great deals

Bid thru Sept. 29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close