Celebrate the 100th anniversary of Jay Cook State Park’s Swinging Bridge

Audio Articles on Hometown Focus is sponsored by Rock Ridge Public Schools.

Beginning with Free Park Day on Saturday, June 8, visitors to Jay Cooke State Park can learn more about the historic Swinging Bridge with summer programming dedicated to the bridge’s 100th anniversary.

First built of ropes and logs in 1924 by the U.S. Forest Service, then later rebuilt by the Civilian Conservation Corps and stonemasons, the bridge has been reconstructed or rebuilt five times over its 100-year history spanning the St. Louis River.

Throughout the summer of 2024, park naturalists will offer tours and educational talks about the bridge’s various forms, the floods that have shaped its history, and the skilled stonemasons who left secrets hidden in their work. Details about these programs are available on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Parks and Trails events calendar.

In addition to preserving historic features like the Swinging Bridge, the DNR is looking to the future at Jay Cooke State Park with planning underway for accessibility improvements utilizing funding from the Get Out MORE (Modernize Outdoor Recreation Experiences) appropriation approved by the 2023 legislature and signed by Governor Tim Walz.

Get Out MORE dollars will fund accessibility improvements to the Oldenburg Point trail and the acquisition of an all-terrain track chair, trailer and supporting infrastructure. Learn more about the transformative Get Out MORE investments happening across Minnesota on the DNR website.

The June 8 Free Park Day is one of four days each year on which the DNR waives the requirement for a vehicle permit at state parks and recreation areas. The four fee-free days are spread out over the year, giving folks an opportunity to visit a state park for free in each season of the year.

While a vehicle permit is not needed for park admission on Free Park Days, additional fees for things like camping reservations and equipment rentals still apply. Vehicle passes are required for other days at a cost of $7 for one-day passes, or $35 for yearround passes. More information can be found on the DNR website.

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