HANCOCK - A 20-year-old bridge spanning the Swedetown Creek in Swedetown Gorge in Hancock was damaged by high water caused by spring runoff this year, and members of the Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club are hoping to raise funds to replace it.
Arlyn Aronson, KNSC member who also grooms the Maasto Hiihto and Churning Rapids Ski Trails in Swedetown Gorge, said the high water caused erosion on one end of the middle bridge, which dislodged some of the timber frame, weakening the structure. While attempting to repair the damage caused by the high water, KNSC members discovered many of the timbers are rotten.
"(The high water) ended its life expectancy," he said.
Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
Arlyn Aronson, Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club member, looks at damage caused by high water in Swedetown Creek in Hancock during the spring runoff. Club members are in the process of raising funds to replace the wooden bridge with a steel-frame bridge. Looking on is Gromit the Trail Mutt.
Aronson said the plan is to replace the 12-feet-wide 38-feet-long wooden bridge with a 12-feet-wide 42-feet-long steel-frame bridge, which is expected to cost $30,000 without labor.
Aronson said it's expected KNSC members will construct the bridge once enough funds are raised.
The grooming of the trails is paid for by the city of Hancock, and Aronson said the city will also pay for half the cost of constructing a new bridge.
To pay for the new bridge, Aronson said the 260-member KNSC is conducting a fundraising effort, which includes a concert from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday at the Orpheum Theatre in Hancock. Tickets are $15 if purchased before Saturday from KNSC members, the Orpheum, Down Wind Sports in Houghton and Cross Country Sports in Calumet. Tickets are $20 on Saturday at the theatre. For more information, go online to maastobridgejam.com.
Between Maasto Hiihto and Churning Rapids, Aronson said there are about 25 kilometers of trails. If the middle bridge is not usable, that section of the Maasto Hiihto will have to be closed to skiing, which would mean users would not get to experience a significant part of the gorge.
"It's our most important asset," he said of the gorge. "It is vitally important to get the gorge trail open."