Raging rivers damage bridges, trails and parks across Northland (with video)The rampaging streams that wreaked havoc across Duluth on Wednesday also ravaged parks and trails across the city and beyond.
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
The rampaging streams that wreaked havoc across Duluth on Wednesday also ravaged parks and trails across the city and beyond.
From Jay Cooke State Park through Duluth and up the North Shore, swollen rivers and brawling creeks chewed away trails, manhandled bridges and uprooted mature pines.
Duluth’s city parks were hammered by the runoff, said Judy Gibbs, trails coordinator for the city of Duluth.
“It’s awful,” Gibbs said. “I’m devastated. The scope of it is so tremendous. We’ve lost nearly every trail with any up-and-down to it.”
A portion of the steel swinging bridge at Jay Cooke State Park was torn away from its moorings near park headquarters, but the main span of the river, viewed in aerial photos, appears to remain intact.
“It’s pretty twisted up around the rock piers,” park manager Gary Hoeft said of the damaged segment. “I’m not sure how much of the steel structure is remaining.”
Only on Thursday, after officials were able to fully inspect the parks, did the extent of the damage become clearer. The upper dam at Chester Bowl was washed away, and the pond is now a boulder field, said Thom Storm, executive director of the Chester Park Improvement Club. Congdon Park Drive, the asphalt path that parallels Tischer Creek from Vermilion Road to East Fourth Street, is now a 12-foot-deep gully in some places, Gibbs said. Four miles of the Duluth Winnipeg & Pacific railroad bed in West Duluth were destroyed, Gibbs said.
The DWP segment was to be a key component of the Duluth Traverse, a single-track nonmotorized trail that will span the city of Duluth, Gibbs said.
“I think that’s going to cost us millions (to replace),” Gibbs said.
Kathy Bergen, manager of the Duluth Parks and Recreation Department, said that parks remain open and that visitors are welcome despite the damages.
“This is a horrific blow to us because we were moving forward with so many projects and had so many partners,” Bergen said. “Now it’s all washed away. I have staff that goes out there and cries when they see things. But we’ll work on this all summer long and start again in the spring. We’ll bring this back. We’re fired up to get us back to a better place than we were.”
Here’s a look at specific parks and trails:
Bergen estimated the damage at Chester Park alone at a minimum of $3 million to $4 million.
Lightning started a fire in the upper ski lift house on Tuesday, Storm said. The bed of Chester Creek is scoured from Kenwood Avenue “probably all the way to Lake Superior,” Storm said.
“There are two landslides between the chalet and the soccer fields,” he said. “There’s a picnic table wrapped around a tree like a pretzel.”
The hillside near the Rabbit Ears ski jump has sloughed into the creek, he said.
The park’s lower dam has so much debris piled against it that its condition cannot be evaluated, Storm said. Portions of the hillside along Chester Park Drive, bordering the Chester Creek trail from Skyline Parkway to East Fourth Street, have sloughed into the river, he said.
Other parks sustained damage as well, Gibbs said. The Lester-Amity ski trails were damaged, she said. Lincoln Park lost sections of trail. Most of the trails in Hartley Park fared well, Gibbs said, but a walking bridge over a beaver meadow was moved off its supports and washed downstream. Other sections of boardwalk, part of a trail intended to be wheelchair accessible, were lifted and moved. Mission Park hadn’t been assessed yet, she said.
For latest conditions, updated daily, go to www.shta.org and click on “Conditions.”
The Piedmont trails have several bridges, Sundberg said.
“I’m sure at least half of those were wiped out,” he said.
COGGS advises no trail riding until at least next week.