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SHTA raising money for Split Rock River bridge

Sep 07, 2017 08:22AM ● Published by Editor

By Jamey Malcomb from The Lake County News Chronicle -Sep 1, 2017

For the first time in its history, the Superior Hiking Trail is starting a capital campaign to raise money to install a bridge over the Split Rock River in Lake County.

The trailhead by the Split Rock River is one of the most heavily used sections of the trail, according to Superior Hiking Trail Association executive director Denny Caneff.

"Anybody cruising along can stop and walk along the Split Rock River," Caneff said. "You can walk up the gorge, but to get across the river and get to the other side of the gorge, you need a bridge. If you are daring and the water is low, you could get across there but it is so heavily used, we'd like a safer crossing."

The capital campaign the SHTA is starting has a goal of raising $75,000 with the intent of installing the bridge over Split Rock River and is already working with Pennsylvania-based Creative Pultrusions to create a "kit bridge" made of fiberglass. The association recently installed a similar bridge over the Red River near the southern terminus of the trail on the Wisconsin border, just south of Jay Cooke State Park.

"We really like this fiberglass bridge kit idea that we tried out for the first time on the Red River," Caneff said. "It's up, it's solid and the guys that were familiar with construction that were with us were really impressed with how it went together."

The Red River is smaller and has little in common with the Split Rock River crossing, but the kit comes pre-drilled and in pieces that are made to fit SHTA specifications. The bridge over the Split Rock River will be longer and slightly wider than the completed bridge, but it should create a much more reliable crossing and since it is made of fiberglass, it should be more durable than a wood bridge.

There have been bridges over the Split Rock River in the past, but some have washed out and the most recent bridge "wasn't well built," according to Caneff. The SHTA is trying to learn some lessons from the past bridges and has moved the crossing downstream a bit to a spot less likely be damaged by rushing water.

Caneff is hoping to have the footings, or piers, installed at the bridge site before deer season ends, which is typically the end of the heavy hiking season. In the spring, a group of six or seven people will oversee the installation of the kit bridge and the work will be done by a group of 30-40 volunteers.

The SHTA has already received a boost on its capital campaign with a commitment of $10,000 from Midwest Mountaineering in Minneapolis. In addition, the association is partnering with Castle Danger Brewery to raise money for the first time. The brewery will contribute 5 percent of the sales of its "Maple Marzen" Oktoberfest-style ale to the Split Rock River bridge project.

Castle Danger's "Team Danger" volunteer group has already done some work with the SHTA to maintain the trail, but with a capital campaign and a specific project the time seemed right to partner to raise money for the SHT. The brewery sees the trail as an integral part of life on the North Shore and the Maple Marzen, brewed with maple syrup collected in the area, seemed to fit with that idea.

"We believe that having a concrete project that people within the area are familiar with will definitely help drive people to purchase that beer instead of one of our other year round beers and really supporting the SHT in that capacity," Castle Danger marketing and events coordinator Maddy Stewart said. "I think it will be a driving force for some people knowing that the Castle Danger donation they are contributing to will go to a specific project."

Maple Marzen will be available for purchase at the Castle Danger taproom in both pints and growlers and in kegs distributed throughout Minnesota.

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