When we were planning our trip, beside the goal of finding cooler temps, we wanted to explore an area we had not been to before. We found that one of the most scenic drives in MN was route 61 north from Duluth along the shores of Lake Superior.
Everyone who lives near the shores of Lake Superior and most everyone involved in the marine industry knows the reputation of Lake Superior. It is lined with rocky unforgiving coastline and prone to violent storms with huge waves and very deep water. The foolish, unprepared, and often just the unlucky routinely perish on this lake. Perhaps one the latest and most remembered is the loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald but there are many others. Along this coast, MN has built a series of safe harbors for small craft to seek shelter from storms. We stopped at one of these harbors to enjoy the view. In addition to the harbor itself they have also provided for other recreational activities for non boaters. This one was in excellent condition.
Two Harbors exists only because of the discovery of iron ore in the nearby mountain ranges. Beginning in the late 1800's, the town could only be accessed by water or by rail. The driving force behind the town development was the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad. While today the town enjoys some tourism, it remains primarily a transshipment point for the iron ore. Most of the shipping season, there are at least two Great Lake freighters calling here every day. The ore docks are certainly the prominent feature of the town.
Near the docks is the train station, which is now a museum with displays of the first inhabitants, town history, and the railroad,
Nearby, you can visit the harbor lighthouse and the assistant keepers house. There is an early steamship bridge overlooking the lake to get the feel of how it might have been to be onboard a laker. On the grounds you can walk out the jetty to the harbor entrance light for a great view of the harbor and ship loading piers.
Finally, Two Harbors is also the home of the 3M company. In the modest original office , you can take a short tour of the history of the company.
We made several assumptions about this drive. First that it would be scenic and two, it would not likely be that busy. We were half right, as it turned out.
We headed north from Two Harbors planning a stop at the Gooseberry State Park to see the falls. This should be no problem on a Monday. As we turned into the park entrance , we immediately knew we were in trouble. Cars were parked in the grass along the entry road right up to the two large parking lots which included parking for RV's only. Unfortunately all the spots were filled with mostly cars. After two passes, there was no way we were going to fit even our small Rv in anywhere. Also the campground in the park was full. So we continued north.