Snowy Range Pass

Snowy Range Pass

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Two Harbors, MN

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.  


Paul and Marsha Weaver OCT. 17, 2009 said...

Our friends, who part-time, live in Two Harbors. They are forever asking us to come up for a few days. It is a very long way from us, but we hope one day to get there. Thanks for showing us around. We now have a better ideas of what they are talking about when they say it is so beautiful up here. Your picture do a great job of showing that.

Peter + Beatrix said...

With your small RV you have the best cha.nces to use "Boondockers Welcome" sites. They have over 800 members across North America. Campoing is free there and usually you have water and power.

Jim and Sandie said...

Loved reading about how these towns came into being. Thoroughly enjoyed this tour.

Nickie Jim said...

Those ore docks are an amazing sight, aren't they? I enjoyed seeing your photos, esp since we were in the same area a couple of months ago. I think you had better weather than we did!

Bob and Jo said...

We had the exact same thing happen at the falls to us and we continued our trip to Grand Marais. We want to visit Two Harbors sometime.

Gypsy said...

I loved that drive up along Lake Superior. I drove to nearly the Canadian border but as I wasn't feeling well I decided to scrap my original plan to drive through Canada and down into Michigan. I can't decide if I like Superior or Huron the best of the Great Lakes.

Laura Skjenna said...

Your pictures are great and gave me a feel for what it is like there.

Sherry said...

Sorry to hear about Gooseberry SP. Everywhere even remotely cool in August seems to be constantly crowded. You are definitely right about treacherous Lake Superior. Love the lighthouse and your pictures of it and the Keepers house. Don't miss Copper Harbor if you can. Way up at the top of the UP but really wonderful.

Jerry n Kimberly Peterson said...

We absolutely loved the entire North Shore Drive...we assumed we would do it on one of our 2 days off while working in Aitkin, MN for the summer but it turned into more like 4 weeks of our 2 days off since we were awe inspired at each stop...we went all the way up into Canada and it was breathtaking.

Your photos reminded us of this marvelous time in our lives many years ago.

Erin Erkun said...

Sounds like a lovely drive ... at least that part of your assumption was correct.