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Tag Archives: Superior Wisconsin

This was the second time we had the good fortune to be at Frasier Shipyards when tugs were working to break out the ships from winter layup. We had planed to drive over to Frasier Shipyards to take a few photos of the ships that were in winter layup and in for repair. When we arrived we discovered that a tug was working to free the ships from the ice so they could begin the shipping season. The Kaye E. Barker had already been freed from the ice

The Tug North Carolina was working to free  the Lee A. Tregurtha.

The Tim S. Dool was in Frasier for major overhaul,

The William A. Irvin was moved to Frasier from its dock in Duluth last fall for a much needed refurbishing. It is a major tourist attraction in Duluth.

One last shot of the ships as the tug was finishing its work.

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.

We were driving through Superior, Wisconsin late in the afternoon when I noticed some great light on the  SS Meteor Whaleback Ship. We drove down along the water and I managed a few shots before the sun set.



For the second year in a row Ice Man Roger (Roger Hanson) is attempting to build an ice castle on Barkers Island in Superior. In spite of the warm weather things seem to be progressing well. My wife and I stopped for a closer look last weekend. The unusual color of the ice is because he is taking ice from the harbor and the water is tinted with tannin.




As I mentioned in my previous blog we drove over to Bayfield, Wisconsin to watch the Apostle Islands Sled Dog Races. When we left the race it was raining but by the time we reached Superior, Wisconsin the sun was peeking out.

Northern Pacific Ore Dock-No. 1

Northern Pacific Ore Dock-No. 1

We stopped at the Kwik Trip in Superior to get gas I noticed the light was shining on one of the abandon Iron ore docks. There were folks fishing out along the dock so I figured it was a good chance to walk out and get some photos. I had been wanting to photograph the docs but didn’t have a way to get close to them until the ice formed.

Northern Pacific Ore Dock-No. 1

Northern Pacific Ore Dock-No. 1

Apparently the docks are in the process of being removed. There was a crane working alongside the docks.

GN-BN Allouez Ore Docks

GN-BN Allouez Ore Docks

One of the fishermen I talked to said they were going to make a marina out of the area. There were a number of boats stored on shore and under the docks. At one point I noticed a car driving along inside the docks so they must be massive.

Northern Pacific Ore Dock-No. 1

Northern Pacific Ore Dock-No. 1

This past weekend we were driving through Superior, Wisconsin when we noticed a hockey tournament taking place in front of the Fairlawn Mansion. We decided to drive down to Barkers Island for a closer look. It turns out that the Great Lakes Classic Pond Hockey Tournament was taking Place all weekend.

Great-Lakes-Classic-Pond-Hockey-Tournament-13-1-_2109When we arrived it was just about noon and the youth hockey had just taken place. The tournament was at a noon break and folks were standing around the nice fire they had going. A young kid was running back and forth from the woodpile to the fire with small sticks. Several hours later he was still feeding the fire. We looked around and then decided to run some errands and return for the afternoon games.

Great-Lakes-Classic-Pond-Hockey-Tournament-13-1-_2122 The afternoon games were being played by the big kids and big kids like to drink beer so there was plenty of that flowing. Crazy Frank (orange cap) seemed to be everywhere. I’m not sure if he had a role or was just one of the local characters that show up at events.

Great-Lakes-Classic-Pond-Hockey-Tournament-13-1-_2129 As I mention the Fairlawn Mansion provided a backdrop for the tournament.


Great-Lakes-Classic-Pond-Hockey-Tournament-13-1-_2131The action was fast and furious. The older kids were playing for keeps.


Great-Lakes-Classic-Pond-Hockey-Tournament-13-1-_2158This young skater was practicing on one of the unused rinks when I stopped to take his picture. As soon as he saw me he stopped and posed for a photo.

 More photos from the event can be found on my website.