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Category Archives: Duluth Minnesota

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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On Saturday it was snowing and blowing in Duluth and it was expected to get worse during the day. We had planned to stop in at the 2018 Duluth Ice & Mixed Fest being held at Casket Quarry. This was our first visit to the Ice Fest now in its third year. It was snowing hard when we arrived so it was difficult to take photos. The camera was getting wet and automatic focus was not working all that well. There were a few climbers on the wall when we arrived. What sets this venue apart its the the fact that it combines rock and ice climbing on a 100 foot wall. The ice results from water seeping out of the rocks although the climbing club plans on farming ice on a section of the wall so they can provide a training ground for climbers. More photos from the day can be found on my website.

There was a fire going and some folks were gathered around the fire watching the climbers.

This climber was working up a crack on the face of the wall.

This climber worked his way up a crack and under the ice before making his way onto the ice to finish the climb.

On the way out we stopped to talk to some folks and asked where the name “casket quarry” came from. Apparently a business next to the quarry made vaults and stored them along the trail to the quarry. When climbers were asked where they were going to climb they would say “at the casket quarry”.

We were in Duluth just before Christmas and one of our favorite stops during the Christmas season is the Bentleyville Tour of Lights. This year the display had been expanded with some new displays.

The following day we managed to catch another Duluth Shipping Twofer. The American Integrity was coming into Duluth Harbor and the Paul R. Tregurtha  was on its way out into Lake Superior.

The American Integrity had a good deal of ice on its bow.

The Paul R. Tregurtha was listing to one side as it made its turn to line up with the Ship Canal. Several years ago it lost steering and grounded itself at Bayfront Park.

When someone goes down to Canal Park to watch a ship come in and two ships come in and/or go out it is called a twofer. On this particular day the Michipicoten was coming in.

The Walter J. McCarthy, Jr. was on its way out of the harbor.

When we are in Duluth I like to walk down to Canal Park to watch the sunrise. On this particular morning I was setting up and heard a loud splash. A little while later I noticed that a couple of young men swimming out to Uncle Harvey’s Mausoleum. This the first time I had seen anyone on the Mausoleum at sunrise.

I took their picture then did a couple of panoramas from the same location.

There were some beautiful clouds in the sky over the harbor entrance.

As the sun rose the South Breakwater Light just glowed.

There were some great shots of the South Breakwater Inner Light which is privately owned.

Sunlight and water always make for some nice shots.

We walked down to the Duluth Ship Canal to watch the Paul R. Tregurtha sail under the Aerial Lift Bridge. Our first stop was to photograph the South Breakwater Inner Light with the interesting clouds behind it.

We then walked over to the DECC to watch the Tregurtha arrive and sail into the harbor.

My wife and I frequently walk down to Canal Park in Duluth, Minnesota to watch the ships arrive. On this night we were able to catch two ships as they arrived about an hour apart. The first to arrive was the Baie Comeau flying the Canadian Flag.

Between ships we walked out to the North Breakwater Light. There have been a large number of Double-breasted Cormorants hanging around the harbor this year.

There was some nice light and clouds behind the North Breakwater Light.

We watched the Herbert C. Jackson approach the ship canal.

Throughout the evening there were some interesting lake/sky photos.

 

This year we were in Duluth, Minnesota to view the fireworks. There are many locations to watch them and this year we chose to view them from the North Breakwater.

My wife always carries some peanuts when we go down to Canal Park in Duluth to watch the ships. Between ships she feeds the gulls peanuts. It’s great fun to watch them.