"The Scenic and Beautiful St. Louis River" Jay Cooke State Park by yooperprof

Jay Cooke State Park Travel Guide: 3 reviews and 13 photos

A Northwoods refuge

Jay Cooke State Park is a wonderful slice of northern beauty only minutes away from the urban center of Duluth. At the center of Jay Cooke is the historically important and scenically splendid St. Louis River.

Within the park boundaries, the St. Louis River descends over 500 feet in elevation, from the surrounding plain to the Superior River basin. A series of rapids, waterfalls, and narrow gorges escort the river toward the big water. Native Americans have used the St. Louis River for eons, following its course up to the great lakes and swamps of the Boundary Water Region.

Hydro Power

Just outside the boundaries of the State Park is Thomson Dam, a reservoir that provides a significant amount of clean, efficient energy for the surrounding grid.

"Thomson Station, on the St. Louis River in Jay Cooke State Park, is Minnesota Power's largest hydroelectric plant, and the largest hydro facility in the State.

Thomson's output of 75,000 Kilowatts is sufficient to power all the homes in nearby Duluth. Minnesota Power operates ten other hydro facilities on the rivers throughout northern Minnesota, Hydro power contributes about 10% of the Company's total generating capability. Environmentally preferred low-sulfur western coal provides the energy for most of the electric generation. . .

Thomson Dam was built in 1906. The potential of the hydroelectric project was second only to Niagara Falls at the time. A writer for the 1907 "progress edition" of the Duluth Evening Herald summed it up when he called Thomson "one of the great engineering feats of the 20th century."

"rail to trail" to Duluth

The Willard Munger trail goes through Jay Cooke State Park, providing an easy bike link to nearby Duluth (approximately 10 miles to the north.) The trail continues southward all the way to Hinckley.

  • Last visit to Jay Cooke State Park: Jun 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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