Summer season will be a washout for flood-ravaged Jay Cooke State ParkJay Cooke State Park probably will be closed for the remainder of the summer in the wake of flood-related washouts along Minnesota Highway 210, park manager Gary Hoeft said.
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
Jay Cooke State Park probably will be closed for the remainder of the summer in the wake of flood-related washouts along Minnesota Highway 210, park manager Gary Hoeft said.
“We’re fully expecting to not be open for the summer,” Hoeft said.
Access to the popular park on the St. Louis River has been blocked by damage along Highway 210, including two major washouts, Hoeft said. One of the washouts is about a half-mile west of park headquarters, the other about a half-mile east, he said.
But minor washouts and numerous mudslides along the road also will have to be repaired, said Todd Campbell, a project manager for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. MnDOT’s priorities include repairing the washout west of park headquarters and getting a road in to Minnesota Power’s Thomson Hydro Station, Campbell said.
When it reopens, the first public access to Jay Cooke State Park will be from Thomson on Highway 210 once the washout west of park headquarters is fixed, Campbell said. But that will take some time.
“We’re looking at a 90- to 120-day sort of estimate,” Campbell said.
The major washout east of park headquarters was caused when Forbay Lake broke through its embankment and drained to the St. Louis River, Campbell said. Forbay Lake was a 30-acre impoundment that channeled part of the flow of the St. Louis River to Minnesota Power’s Thomson Hydro Station. That washout is an estimated 200 to 300 feet across and at least 50 feet deep, Campbell said. Even above the washout, remaining trees had bark stripped from them by floodwaters.
“The volume of material that must have come down there in a matter of seconds is just mind-boggling,” Campbell said.
Meanwhile, Jay Cooke’s 18 park employees remain on the job, Hoeft said, assessing flood damage to trails and performing other maintenance.
“They’re working harder than ever,” Hoeft said. “Our people will probably be working all summer long replacing culverts and building bridges on our trails.”
Jay Cooke State Park has 79 drive-in campsites, plus four backpack sites, three walk-in sites and five camper cabins.