An extensive reconstruction of the 90-year-old waterfall bridge at Minneopa State Park will limit access to certain areas of the park over the next three months, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
“The waterfall bridge is an important and recognizable feature of Minneopa State Park,” said Paul Hansen, district supervisor for the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “Our concern for the historic nature of the structure and the natural areas surrounding it will create some access restrictions during the restoration process.”
Hansen said the bridge site will be closed while the project is underway, and access to the lower waterfalls area will be restricted. In addition, no parking will be allowed along Gadwall Road, which runs parallel to the falls. The roadside and vicinity will be used for construction access and staging of supplies and equipment. The public will not be allowed to enter the project work area.
The restoration of the open-spandrel arch bridge begins in mid-August and will involve carefully removing portions of the bridge that have been weakened by time, weather and periodic high water levels, said Kent Skaar, acquisition and development section leader.
Once the railings, deck, spandrel beams and portions of the columns, piers and structural arch of the bridge have been removed, reconstruction will begin. New, cast concrete components will add strength to the bridge, while maintaining the design of the original structure.
“We worked closely with the State Historic Preservation Office on the restoration of this structure and think the public will be pleased with the end product,” Skaar said.
The project is scheduled for completion in October.
All other areas of the 1,145-acre park remain open, including the campground, interpretive exhibit and programs, prairies area and geocaching.
The word “Minneopa” means “water falling twice” in the Dakota Indian language. The twin waterfalls drop a total of 45 feet, making them the largest waterfalls in southern Minnesota. In 1921, a bridge was built over the creek between the falls at a cost of $2,200. Since that time, hundreds of thousands of people have crossed the bridge. In 2011, more than 130,000 people visited the park and falls.
Minneopa State Park is located off U.S. Highway 169 and State Highway 68, five miles west of Mankato.
For more information, visit mndnr.gov (www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/minneopa/index.html). Updates are also available by calling the DNR Information Center, 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Logo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources