The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Work continues on Potato River Falls viewing deck

 

Richard Jenkins/Daily Globe

WORK CONTINUES on the construction of a boardwalk and viewing platform at the Potato River Falls in Gurney, Wis. The previous platform, along with the cliff supporting it, was washed away in the July 11, 2016 storm. Iron County Forest Administrator Eric Peterson hopes construction on the new platform will be complete next week.

By RICHARD JENKINS

rjenkins@yourdailyglobe.com

GURNEY, Wis. - Iron County Forestry Department workers have been working to build a boardwalk and viewing deck so visitors can once again fully enjoy seeing the Potato River Falls after the previous viewing deck was washed away in the July 11 storm.

While much of Iron County's focus in the aftermath of the storm was on the destruction of Saxon Harbor and the various road washouts throughout the northern part of the county, much of the cliff supporting the deck overlooking the Potato River Falls was washed away during the storm. The result of the erosion was a drop of over 100 feet rather than a viewing platform.

Iron County Forest Administrator Eric Peterson said the new platform will be lower along the hill going down to the river.

"The old (overlook) was on top of the hill, and it eroded away. The estimated cost to replace that one was $95,000," Peterson said, "So we came up with this different alternative."

Once complete, visitors will be able to travel along a 150-foot long boardwalk to a 10-by-10 viewing platform to observe the falls.

The project also includes a fence to block off the washed-out area as it is over a 100-foot drop.

The total project cost is $19,211, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency contributing approximately $14,400 of the costs. Peterson said the remaining costs will be split between Iron County and Wisconsin Emergency Management.

While the old platform was easily accessible from the parking lot, Peterson said the new one will be accessed by going down several flights of stairs.

"As one of the guys (working on the project) told me, it's 197 stairs down to the boardwalk," Peterson joked. "... needless to say he'd been up and down it quite a few times."

While the new platform is somewhat harder to access, Peterson said the cost of rebuilding the cliff-face prevented the old location from being feasible.

He hopes work will be completed sometime next week, although many people continue to visit the popular falls even without the viewing platform.

"The guys were actually talking about it last week. Early in the week, when they hauled materials down there, there were 15 to 18 people that went by them that day," Peterson said. "And that was like Tuesday of last week. So it's wasn't because of the holiday, it wasn't the weekend, it was just some random day in the middle of the week. There's a lot of people that go there."

 
 

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