The first incarnation of the iconic swinging bridge at Jay Cooke State Park began to emerge in 1924, as built by the U.S. Forest Service. Ten years late in 1934 members of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) worked to improve and rebuild the bridge. The CCC members replaced the wooden uprights with concrete and stone towers. This work was completed in 1935 shortly before the camp was retired. In 1941, a second CCC camp was formed and men in that group raised the bridge deck four feet.
The bridge as we knew it before the flood of June 2013 was built in 1953. Additional repair was done in 1977 as concrete caps were added to stabilize the bridge, and the decking was improved. Then the rain came, (see a video from Sparky Stensaas here) and while the stone towers stood strong against the deluge, some of the bridge decking along with the north entrance ramp was washed away.
Announced last week was the schedule to rebuild the historic bridge for the second time. Construction is expected to begin sometime in May of 2013 and finish during September, just in time for the fall foliage season. This rebuild of the bridge is designed to be more historically accurate to the original. Steel handrails which were installed in 1950, and the ones we are all most familiar with, will be replaced by log rails and stiles much more reminiscent of the 1934 bridge.
We all look forward to the new bridge and once again be able to enjoy a swinging stroll across the St. Louis River.