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Bridge outage forces Sandburg historic site to add shuttle

A hole in the dam closed the Front Lake bridge at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock.

Because of the Front Lake bridge closure, Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site will offer shuttle service on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until Sunday, Oct. 30.

The free shuttle will transport visitors from the main parking lot, on Little River Road, to the Sandburg Home and goat farm.

The shuttle will only operate on the days the Sandburg Home is open — Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The first pickup in the main parking lot is at 10:20 a.m. The last drop off in the parking lot is at 3:40 p.m. The shuttle will pick up from the main parking lot every 20 minutes. Visitors who need the shuttle should gather at the shuttle stop sign located in the main parking lot near the accessible parking spaces.

“The bridge closure blocked access to our normal, primary shuttle stop,” said Superintendent Polly Angelakis. “We are grateful to the Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara for funding this new shuttle service, operated by The Trolley Company.”

Other access options

Front Lake bridge serves as the main walkway into the park. To access park buildings, restrooms, and trails on foot during the closure, visitors must now walk an additional 0.4 mile around Front Lake, and then walk 1/3 mile up a steeply graded hill to the Sandburg Home and farm.

Visitors who need assistance up this steeply graded hill are strongly encouraged to visit when the shuttle is running. Alternatively, visitors may drive to the 24-space gravel hikers’ parking lot located 0.5 mile from the main parking lot on Little River Road and then walk .4 mile up a slight slope to access park buildings, restrooms, and hiking trails. Directions to the hikers’ lot are on a sign in the main parking lot, or at

Visitors coming to Sandburg when the shuttle is not running should call 828-707-8125 upon arrival to the park. Limited options may be available.

Front Lake Dam and Lake Health Information

On Aug. 9, the park closed Front Lake bridge due to drainage issues in the historic dam the bridge is built upon. The park is working with engineers and aquatic ecologists to address the issues, which may take months to resolve. “All park structures are inspected on a regular schedule. This is the first known failure of the Front Lake dam, “ Angelakis said. “In addition to dam repair, we are seeking alternative bridge designs.”

Although some loss of aquatic life has occurred and will likely continue, most aquatic life rebounds quickly. Some species become dormant; others go into the streams that feed into or flow from the lake. The park is installing an aerator to help lake species deal with lower oxygen levels.

The Sandburg Home and Park Store/Visitor Center are open Thursdays-Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sandburg Home tours are available Thursdays-Sundays at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Advance reservations are strongly recommended at Last minute, day-of-visit house tour tickets are rarely available. Park grounds and trails are open sunrise to sunset. Leashed pets are allowed on trails and grounds. Outdoor access to the goats (in the barnyard and goat pasture) is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Access to grounds, trails and the farm is free.