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Category Archives: Wisconsin Point

When the Lake Superior shipping season ended the third week of January some of the ships that ply the great lakes head for Duluth/Superior for winter layup. This season a smaller number of ships than normal are in winter layup. Five ships in all can be seen this winter. A sixth ship, the Edwin H. Gott , was scheduled to layup but it could not make it through the Soo Locks before they closed.

The John G. Munson was the last ship to come into port on January 20th and is in Fraser Shipyard for winter layup.John G. Munson 15-2-_2392

The Kaye E. Barker is in dry dock also at the Fraser Shipyard.

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The Mesabi Miner came in on Monday morning, January 19, 2015 and can be found at the Midwest Energy Resources dock.

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The American Integrity was the first of 6 vessels scheduled to arrive in Duluth/Superior for winter layup. She arrived on January 7and can be found at the Carrier Port Terminal Berth 1.

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The Indiana Harbor arrived January 17th entering the Superior entrance and is at the Enbridge Ogdensburg Pier. We happened to be at Wisconsin Point when the Indiana Harbor arrived.

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Lake Superior shipping should resume in about a month.

As we were leaving Duluth I notice on my Marine Tracker that the Indiana Harbor going to come through Wisconsin Point on its way to winter Layup. It was one of the last ships to enter the harbor during the 2014-15 shipping season and the last one to come through the Wisconsin Entry.

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Ironically I was at Wisconsin Point to see the first ship of the season enter the harbor through the Wisconsin Entry. That was the Coast Guard Cutter Alder shown here as it returned from its first ice breaking run. We were on our way back to Duluth from a visit to the Apostle Islands Ice Caves when we noticed the Alder was returning to Superior.

Coast Guard Cutter Alder

Coast Guard Cutter Alder

It was a really gloomy day when the Indiana Harbor came through the entry. It rained as we drove out to Wisconsin Point. Fortunately it quit while we were waiting for the Indiana Harbor to arrive. I suspect the crew was happy to be done for what turned out to be a long season fighting the ice.

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As usual there were quite a few boat nerds out taking photos of the ship as it came in. I’m on a first name basis with some of them since I see them frequently when I’m out photographing around Duluth/Superior.

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The great lakes shipping season will start again in late March.

 

We arrive early to photograph the dawn light and it seemed like quite a while before the sun started to come up. It turned out to be a beautiful sunrise. The water was almost calm so there were some nice reflection shots.

More sunrise photos from Wisconsin Point can be found on my website.

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We made another visit to Wisconsin Point to catch the sunrise. This time I made sure we at the point about an hour before sunrise so we could catch the early dawn glow. Usually I pick a location and shoot from there but I’m trying to expand a bit and tried shooting from a variety of locations. The sunrise was one of the best I’ve seen on my visits.

More sunrise photos from Wisconsin Point can be found on my website.

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Just about every year I head out to Wisconsin Point Lighthouse. I think the best time is around the end of June when the sun rises to the north of the lighthouse and then passes over the lighthouse. This phenomenon last for a couple of weeks. Here are a few shots from this year’s event.

More sunrise photos from Wisconsin Point can be found on my website.

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Apostle Islands Ice Caves:

Normally I’m complaining about the lack of a good winter but this year we have had a fantastic winter. Every winter I look forward to photographing the Apostle Island Ice Caves but this is the first year since 2009 that they have been accessible from the ice on Lake Superior. I was very surprised when I checked  the middle of January and found that the ice caves were already open. Normally they don’t open until January but with the cold weather they were early this year.Apostle-Islands-Ice-Caves-14-1-_1471a

We immediately drove up to Cornucopia to visit the caves. This was followed by two other visits to the caves. We weren’t the only ones visiting the caves. Thanks to social media more than 140 thousand people visited the caves before they closed in mid March.Apostle-Islands-Ice-Caves-14-1-_1672

In-spite of the large number of people visiting the caves I was able to get some great photos and, for the first time, my wife was able to visit the caves. As you can see by the number of blogs I wrote on the subject this was my favorite winter activity.Apostle-Islands-Ice-Caves-14-3-_0983

Bald Eagle Watching:

The cold weather has been a boon for Bald Eagle watching since it concentrated the eagles in areas where there was open water. This winter we spent time visiting three locations along the Mississippi River to watch Eagles. Our most productive location was Covill Park in Red Wing, Minnesota where we always saw eagles. There were also a large number of ducks that provided entertainment when the eagle watching slowed down. The water is always open below the heating plant above Covill Park so the eagles and ducks hang out in this area.Bald-Eagle-14-1-_1996

The second best location was Reads Landing in Minnesota. On three occasions we saw large numbers of Eagles at this location. We also saw Trumpeter Swans that were hanging out in this section of the river. Viewing at this location slowed down as the winter progressed.Bald-Eagle-14-1-_0599

Alma, Wisconsin was the least productive area we visited. We only saw a significant number of eagles on one visit. On several other visits we didn’t see any eagles or only saw a few. I found this a difficult area to photograph eagles because you are usually looking into the sun.Bald-Eagle-14-1-_2164

I wrote a number of blogs describing our visits to these locations.

Trumpeter Swans Watching:

We made a number of trips to Hudson, Wisconsin to watch the Trumpeter Swans. Several people had mentioned that Trumpeter Swans hung out on the St. Croix river but didn’t know the exact location. We eventually found them in downtown Hudson.Trumpeter-Swan-Hudson-Wisconsin-14-2-_1125

Because of the very cold weather they were hanging out it a very small area of open water close to shore during the coldest part of the winter. You could walk down along the shore and photograph them and they didn’t seem to be the least concerned with your presence.Trumpeter-Swans-Hudson-Wisconsin-14-2-_1176

These trips resulted in several blogs reporting on our visits.Trumpeter-Swans-14-2-_0592

Lake Superior Ship Watching:

The very cold weather resulted in a lot of ice on Lake Superior. The early ice made for some great opportunities to photograph ships in the cold weather. One of my favorite year around activities is ship watching in Duluth and Superior Harbors so being able to photograph them working in ice was a great adventure.

Baie Cormeau

Baie Cormeau

We were able to watch ships arrive in the harbor during the very cold winter.

Baie Comeau

Baie Comeau

The Coast Guard Cutters were very active this winter and I was able to see them in action as they were breaking the ice and anchored in the harbor.

Coast Guard Cutter Alder

Coast Guard Cutter Alder

Tug Boats were also required to help break the ice when the Coast Guard was not available.

Helen H

Helen H

A large number of ships are in the Duluth/Superior docks either being repaired or for winter layup.

American Spirit

American Spirit

The long winter will continue into spring as the ice breakers are working to free the harbor of ice and the ships in layup are waiting to head out for the 2014 shipping season. The season should start in the next couple of weeks.

Coast Guard Cutter Alder

Coast Guard Cutter Alder

 

Rush River Ice Formations:

I discovered the Rush River Ice Formations this winter. What a wonderful place to visit. A local land owner has run piping around his property tapping into underground springs. At about two dozen locations on the property he has run vertical pipes with holes drilled into them. The result are some spectacular ice formations.Nelson's-On-the-Rush-River-14-1-_1918

Long Ski Season:

For the second year in a row we have been blessed with a lot of snow. The difference this year is that the ski season started at Thanksgiving and has continued into March. With a little luck we should be able squeeze in at least one more ski trip this year.Boulder-Lake-Ski-Trails-14-2-_1375

Our favorite location this year was the ABR Ski Trails because they usually receive early snow and they do the best job of grooming of any ski location. They are usually able to have good skiing even after warm weather because they have equipment to break up the trail in icy conditions and lay a new track.ABR-Ski-Trails-13-2-_1183

We also skied at The After Hours Ski Trails in Brule a number of times this year. This is a great location because of the large number of trails and its close proximity to Duluth.After-Hours-Ski-Trails-13-3-_3674

We discovered the Boulder Lake Ski Trails near Duluth and made sever visits to these trails. There are enough trails to provide a nice day of skiing without skiing the same trail twice.Boulder-Lake-Ski-Trails-14-2-_1378

We only made one visit, to what we consider, the most beautiful ski trails in the Midwest. These are the Swedetown Ski Trails in Calument, Michigan. They get more snow and beautiful light fluffy snow than anyplace else.Swedetown-Ski-Trails-13-2-_1124

 

Last week we drove up to Duluth, Minnesota for a short visit. On the way up I was watching the Coast Guard Cutter Alder break ice in the Duluth/Superior Harbor. Most of the time it was working clearing the ice in the St. Louis River. As we neared the Blatnick Bridge in Superior I noticed that it had moved its operations down by the Gavilon Grain Docks so we turned off by Frazier Shipyards to see if we could find it. Just about then it started moving toward the Superior Entry.Coast-Guard-Cutter-Alder-at-Wisconsin-Point-14-3-_1411

We quickly headed back to Wisconsin Point to see if we could get a shot of it exiting the harbor. When we arrived it was standing just inside the entry attempting to break ice. Apparently the ice in this area was really thick. You could tell that it was having a tough time because every time it started to ram the ice the two diesel engines started belching smoke.Coast-Guard-Cutter-Alder-at-Wisconsin-Point-14-3-_1439

I took some photos of it before it started heading back down the Harbor toward Duluth. There were a couple of other photographers attempting to get photos but the snow was so deep they couldn’t get down the breakwater. Fortunately I was light enough so that I could walk on the crust.Coast-Guard-Cutter-Alder-at-Wisconsin-Point-14-3-_1441

The shipping season on Lake Superior should start in the next couple of weeks. On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week US Coast Guard Cutter Alder

started breaking ice. It was tough going. On Tuesday it made it out of its moorings  and broke ice past the St. Louis River toward Superior. Some of the ice was over 5 feet thick. On Wednesday it made its way to the Superior Entry and out into Lake Superior for 12 miles.Coast-Guard-Cutter-Alder-at-Wisconsin-Point-14-3-_0920

We had been over at the Apostle Islands Ice Caves in the morning. On our drive back to Duluth we noticed the Marine Traffic website that the Alder was out in Lake Superior so we drove down to Wisconsin Point to see if we could see it.Coast-Guard-Cutter-Alder-at-Wisconsin-Point-14-3-_0926

On our first attempt we didn’t have much luck. It was very windy and cold. I walked out toward Wisconsin Point Lighthouse but couldn’t see the ship so we drove to the end of the road. There was another person sitting in his car and I assumed he was waiting for the Alder to return through the Superior Entry.Coast-Guard-Cutter-Alder-at-Wisconsin-Point-14-3-_0929

We waited a while then noticed that the Alter was continuing out into Lake Superior so we started driving back toward Duluth. Just as we exited Wisconsin Point I asked my wife to make one last check on the status of the Alder. As luck would have it the Alder had turned around was heading back to Superior so we turned around and headed back to the Wisconsin Point Lighthouse.Coast-Guard-Cutter-Alder-14-3-_0919

We watch on Marine Traffic as the Alder neared the Superior Entry. Once again I walked out toward the Lighthouse. There was a fisherman ahead of me and I watched him go out onto the ice. It was really cold and the wind was blowing. I thought he was nuts but when the fish are biting you have to go.Wisconsin-Point-Lighthouse-14-3-_0917

As the Alder entered the port I took some photos. I then notice another photographer heading out onto the ice from a parking lot next to the south breakwater. He walked out to where the Alder had made a path on its way out of the harbor and started taking photos. If you look just in front of the Alder you can see him. This is a fellow I’ve met before. He works for the harbor taking photos of ships. He is one lucky fellow because he has access to places others don’t have including the bridge operators house on the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge.Coast-Guard-Cutter-Alder-at-Wisconsin-Point-14-3-_0939

On previous visits to Wisconsin Point I had seen eagles around. On my last trip I met a fellow photographer who had been photographing them this summer. He took me over to a tree where one normally rousts but it wasn’t around. He mentioned that he had seen over fifty of them in one day.

Later in the morning I was setting up to photograph the Algolake as it was leaving the Burlington Northern Ore Docks when two Bald Eagles were fishing and flew right at me. By the time I had the camera reconfigured they were flying away from me.

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Later in the morning one turned up on the perch my photographer friend had pointed out. I think it was one of those that had flown at me earlier. I tried to get close enough to get a photo but I heard another eagle calling and if flew off. I walked along the shore and noticed the pair was sitting in a tree along the water.

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As I left Wisconsin Point I saw six more eagles in trees along the road. I was able to get a shot of one before it flew off.

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I visited Wisconsin Point on many occasions but this trip was the first one where I’ve seen a ship leaving the harbor. I had been at the Point to watch the sunrise. After photographing the sun rise I walked toward the harbor and noticed a ship was loading Taconite at the Burlington Northern Ore Docks. According to the Duluth Shipping News Algolake and it was scheduled to depart but it was still in the docks. I decided to leave and walked back to the car. Just as I was getting in the car I noticed that the Algolake was starting to exit the ore docks. I quickly walked back to the harbor entrance and photographed it as it was leaving the harbor. Algolake-13-7-_0732

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