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Category Archives: Blatnick Bridge

Last Thursday we decided to take a walk around Downtown Duluth, Minnesota. It had been a while since our last visit and we wanted to see what was going on. Our first stop was to check out the Superior Street Construction. Duluth has decided it was time to replace Superior Street and update the utilities under the street. This is phase one of a three year project. Unfortunately in redesigning Superior Street the Duluth City Council had it’s head buried in the sand. Rather than rebuilding the street for the future they decided to build for the past. After all parking was the top priority of the businesses along the street even though there was plenty of unused parking in adjacent ramps. Having traveled extensively I was aware that the future of downtown’s is in walking streets and both in this country and Europe are many good examples of walking streets. Reykjavik, Iceland turns their main streets into walking streets during the summer months. Well Duluth is not know to be a forward looking community.

 

We then attempted to walk down to the harbor area through the sky walk. Unfortunately access to the harbor was blocked off. A severe spring storm damaged the waterfront a few weeks ago. There were already problems along the harbor as the seawall had been undercut and the land was falling into the harbor. The storm made matters worse. This happens to be the area where the Tall Ships dock when they come to Duluth. Probably no Tall Ships until the area is repaired. There were workmen in the area attempting to assess the damage.

While we were checking out the damage we noticed some unusual smoke coming from the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior, Wisconsin. We figured there had been a minor accident and didn’t pay much attention.

 

We then had to take a circuitous route to The William A. Irvin because the harbor area is blocked off. This is an old ore ship that has been turned into a museum and offers tours during the summer. This area was already under repair because pier had been undercut by wave action. The $6.1 million Minnesota Slip seawall reconstruction project just resumed after a lengthy delay. Unfortunately the project failed to get the proper signatures and was closed down for six weeks. The plan is to drive new steel pilings then pour a new seawall. The delay has caused problems for the Vista Fleet tour boats one of which docks in back of the Irvin. If that wern’t enough the slip is contaminated and remediation is scheduled to take place this fall.

In addition the Blue Slip Bridge was undergoing painting and it was also closed.

This section of the seawall was breached in the April storm. Waves were above the seawall and sand still has not been removed. The waves were so high they touched the bottom of the Aerial Lift Bridge.

Canal Park remains a disaster zone. A sever October storm severely damaged the lakewalk. The April storm did even more damage. The pilot house used for the bike rentals is closed and will likely not open this summer and perhaps it will never reopen. Because of the damage to the lakewalk the city decided the rental bikes take up too much space in the remaining walk area. The bike path will have to be used for walkers and bikes because the boardwalk was destroyed in the October storm and experienced even more damage in the April storm. Current estimates are that it will take two years to repair the damage.

The city has not been able to assess the damage from the most recent storm because the boardwalk and surrounding area is still covered in ice from the latest storm.

After lunch we decided to take a walk over to Park Point to assess the damage to the beach area. As we started our walk we could see huge plums of smoke coming from the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior. We decided that we had to drive over that way to get some meat at Superior Meats so we should check out what was going on at the same time. As it turns out there was a minor explosion which is what we saw in the morning but around noon there was a major explosion and fire. Fortunately no one was killed and only one person was seriously injured. Most of the workers were having lunch in blast shelters at the time of the explosion.

This shot is from the Blatnick Bridge.

A second shot from Superior.

A shot taken near the Superior Airport which is near the refinery. As were driving toward Superior Meats my wife complained about all of the traffic. She though there might be an evacuation of the area. I thought she was nuts it was just a busy time of day. When we reached Superior Meats the door was locked but there was no notice on the door. About that time my wife received a mandatory evacuation order on her phone. The all of the employees came running out of the store. We decided that maybe we shouldn’t be driving around through a toxic cloud.

Later in the day we drove up to Enger Park to check out the fire in Superior. It was getting late in the day and the fire was still spewing a toxic cloud of smoke. There were a number of people watching the fire. Apparently some of them had been evacuated from Superior because the kids wanted to know when they could go back home.

After that excitement we drove down to Park Point. We love to walk the Park Point beach but between the eroded shoreline on one side and the high ice wall on the other there wasn’t much to see so it was a short visit. It doesn’t appear that this storm cause much more damage along the shoreline. The October storm caused considerable damage. That along with the the high lake levels in Lake Superior had caused flooding in the basements of many Park Point homes. They have been running sump pumps to keep water out of their basements.

What started out as a nice walk through Duluth turned in to a disaster tour of the Twin Ports.

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We were driving back to Duluth from Wisconsin and noticed as we crossed the Blatnick Bridge that the Joyce L. VanEnkevort and Great Lakes Trader was approaching Rice’s Point so we exited the bridge and drove down to Rice’s Point to watch it go under the bridge. You will notice that the Joyce L. VanEnkevort is a tug and Great Lakes Trader is a barge. The back of the former ship has been modified so the tug can insert itself into the barge. Apparently it is far less costly to run a tug/barge combination than it is to run a ship.

A day later I happened to be down in Canal Park when the Joyce L. VanEnkevort and Great Lakes Trader was leaving Duluth Harbor through the Ship Canal.

Late in the evening I noticed some nice color in the sky over Lake Superior so I decided to take a late evening walk along the lakewalk to the harbor entrance. By the time I had reached the lighthouses I noticed the sky had lost some of its color.

North Breakwater Light

North Breakwater Light

As I looked back over the city I noticed that there were some clouds that were just reaching peak color.

Waterfront

Waterfront

I walked from the lighthouses under the lift bridge toward Waterfront Plaza. The clouds had reached peak color over the hills above Duluth. I took several shots of Waterfront Plaza and the surrounding area with the sunset in the background.

Waterfront Plaza Marina

Waterfront Plaza Marina

Waterfront Plaza Marina

Waterfront Plaza Marina

Water Towers

Water Towers

The sun quickly set so I walked over to Bayfront Park to get some photos of the reflections off of the harbor. There was almost no breeze to interfere with the reflections. The only thing making it difficult was the number of mosquitoes.

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge

Blatnick Bridge

Blatnick Bridge

This photo of the Blatnick Bridge from Duluth, Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin  appeared in Wisconsin’s Great Lakes Calendar.

Blatnick Bridge

Blatnick Bridge

I don’t get a lot of sleep when I’m in Duluth. I’m usually up before sunrise and watch for ships until sunset. On this day I got up for sunrise and drove down to Canal Park. It was obvious there was not going to be a sunrise so I drove down to Rice’s Point. I had been wanting to take some night photos in this area but hadn’t gotten around to it. This is a photo of the Arrowhead and Blatnick bridges.

Arrowhead-and-Blatnick-Bridges-Rices-Point-16-5-_3138

It was the blue hour so I managed to get some photos with a deep blue tint. The Paul R. Tregurtha was loading coal.

Paul R. Tregurtha 16-5-_3143

A bit later I took a photo of the Arrowhead Bridge.

Arrowhead-Bridge-Rice's-Point-16-5-_3162

 

The Eemsborg had been sitting outside the harbor for several days. I just happened to look out the window and noticed it was getting underway and would be entering the harbor.

Eemsborg-16-5-_3679

I jumped in the car and headed down to Canal Park to watch it enter the Ship Canal. Unfortunately the Eemsborg was really moving it out and I arrived just in time to see it sail under the bridge. I tuned the car around and headed for Rice’s Point hopping to get a photo it as it sailed under the Blatnick Bridge.

Eemsborg-16-5-_3682

I noticed there were some ships coming into Duluth early in the morning so I drove down to Canal Park to watch. It’s great this time of year because the parking is free.

The Paul R. Tregurtha, the largest ship on the Great Lakes, sailed in. I photographed it as it entered the harbor then decided to drive down to Rice’s Point to watch it sail into the docks.

Paul-R.-Tregurtha-16-4-_2484

When I arrived at Rice’s Point I checked Marine Tracker and noticed that another ship was sailing toward Rice’s Point. There were a couple of other Boat Nerds at Rice’s point watching the ships. The Mesabi Miner was just making the turn to go under the Blatnick Bridge. The Paul R. Tregurtha had to wait for the Miner transit under the bridge. For some reason the ship was going to back up the Saint Louis River to the docks.

Mesabi-Miner-Rice's-Point-16-4-_1572

Mesabi-Miner-Rice's-Point-16-4-_2524

While I was waiting for the big ships to work their way up the river I took a few photos of the small fishing boats that were heading out into the lake for some Trout fishing. The season just opened so everyone was in a hurry to get out into the lake.

Fishing-Boat-Rice's-Point-16-4-_1679

As we walked out onto Arrowhead Bridge I noticed a Canada Goose just above my head. The other photographers were over six feet tall and the goose was not happy. It reached down and hissed at them. Apparently it has been nesting there the last few years and has been known to attack passersby.

Canada-Goose-Rice's-Point-16-4-_1709

There were also several other Canada Geese nesting next two the Arrowhead Bridge.

Nesting-Canada-Goose-Rice's-Point-16-4-_1608

Canada-Goose-Rice's-Point-16-4-_1631

Once the Miner had gotten under the bridge the Tregurtha started backing up the river.

Paul R. Tregurtha Rice's Point 16-4-_1722

After leaving Observation Park we drove down to Rice’s Point. There were some nice views of the Blatnick Bridge, Midwest Energy Center and Bong Bridge.

Blatnick Bridge

Blatnick Bridge

Bong Bridge

Bong Bridge

Midwest Energy Docks

Midwest Energy Docks

On Sunday morning my wife and I were heading out for a walk along the Duluth waterfront when I check the Marine Traffic on my phone and noticed that the Heritage Marine Tug the Nels J was out breaking ice. We decided to forgo the walk and drive out to Rice’s Point to watch the tug work.

Helen H

Helen H

When we arrived the tug was working at the Calumet Fuel Dock which is a secure area where we couldn’t photograph. I assumed that a ship was going to move from winter layup to refuel before the start of the shipping season and the Nels J was breaking up ice around the dock. I was having problems following the Nels J with my Marine Tracker and discovered the app hadn’t been updated in some time so I updated it. When It came back on I noticed the Nels J was heading to Rice’s Point. I grabbed my camera but was a little late to get any good photos. Just about then my wife noticed another Heritage Marine tug, the Helen H sail out from Howard’s Pocket where the Frasier Shipyards are located. We watched as the Helen H moved back into Howard’s Pocket.

We jumped in the car and drove down to Conner’s Point which offers a good view of the ships in winter layup at Frasier Shipyards. Sure enough the Helen H had already broken ice to free the John G. Munson from the ice. As was getting up steam to move out of winter layup. This was a far cry from last year when we watched most of the day while the Helen H and Nels J tried to free the Munson from the heavy ice.

John G. Munson and Helen H

John G. Munson and Helen H

Duluth has a good collection of Boat Nerds that show up whenever there are boats moving. Many of the folks that were watching the Munson leave were also on hand to watch the Indiana Harbor arrive to end the shipping season at Wisconsin Point.

Indiana Harbor

Indiana Harbor

We watched as the John G. Munson slowly backed out of Howard’s Pocket and under the Blatnick Bridge. It was followed by the Helen H in case it ran into trouble. He Nels J was waiting at out in the Saint Louis River in case it was needed to help turn the Munson.

Helen H and John G. Munson

Helen H and John G. Munson

The Munson then sailed under the Blatnick Bridge past Rice’s Point before turning and then backing into the Calumet Fuel Dock where it spent several hours refueling. The Nels J was on hand in case it needed help docking.

John G. Munson and American Integrity-

John G. Munson and American Integrity-