Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Duluth, Minnesota, our next stop, in the the midst of a gigantic, three-year, “mega-project” (their phrase)!  Consequently, getting around town is mega-confusing for us visitors.

Since we are planning to move from Nemadji Trailer Park and Campground (click here to read our review and see photos) in Superior, WI, to the Lakehead Marina in Duluth’s Canal Park tomorrow, we decided we’d better nail down our route.  I spent some serious time on the 1-35 Mega-Project website this morning studying and printing detour route maps, and then we took off for the 10 mile trip.

This little pedestrian bridge opens to allow access to the small boat marina. Lucky for us, we can avoid the worst of the detours, sticking close to the shore of Lake Superior.  Just one giant, high bridge between us and Duluth, a few narrow downtown streets, cross Duluth’s famous Aerial Lift Bridge over the shipping entrance to the harbor, and we’ll be “home”. 

Between our site-to-be at the Lakehead Marina and the Bayfront Festival Park (site of the Blues Festival) is Duluth’s tourist hot-spot, Canal Park.  Hotels, restaurants, shops, nightclubs, a lakefront walkway, tour boat dock, Great Lakes Aquarium, OmniMax theatre… it is all there, within walking distance of our site at the marina. 

After we successfully negotiated the drive, we parked on the street in Canal Park and set off on foot, heading to the Aerial Lift Bridge.  The original bridge, built in 1904/05 to replace a ferry between Canal Park and Park Point (crossing the harbor entrance), used a gondola hanging from an overhead span (click here to see a cool photo) to transport people and wagons across the ship canal into Duluth’s harbor.  Since 1930, a lift span replacing the gondola has done that job, lifting as many as 40 times a day during the summer shipping/boating season.

A big freighter enters the canal. Passing under the bridge
A big freighter enters the shipping canal…

… and passes under the Aerial Lift Bridge.

Remember the many huge freighters we saw in the locks at Sault Ste. Marie?  If they are going to Duluth, they pass under the Aerial Lift Bridge.  As it was done at the locks, an Army Corps of Engineers (COE) Visitor Center provides information on ships coming and going under the bridge, with approximate times of arrivals and departures. 

In Sault Ste. Marie, we were lucky enough to see the largest ship on the Great Lakes, the 1013 ft. Paul R. Tregurtha, “lock through” – and on the information board at the COE visitor center, we learned that she will be departing the Duluth harbor tomorrow between 12:30 and 1:30.  We should be in our new, dockside site by then, and hope to make it over to the bridge to watch her transit the canal.  Meanwhile, we contented ourselves watching this 600 footer navigate the canal.  I could watch these big ships all day long!


  1. Thanks for the great tour of this area and the great information. Locks, canals and large ships are always interesting to us, too. Can't wait to read a post and see some pics of the Paul R. Tregurtha. Have fun!

  2. We're enjoying your travels, as you're visiting many of the same places we'd planned...if only it weren't for that pesky accident... Thanks for the tour.

  3. Duluth can get VERY confusing, esp at night when they close I-35. Almost missed a flight couple weeks ago...

    Looks like we are not so far away... We are in Iron River, WI by Delta lake.