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Tag Archives: Two Harbors

We have had an urban cabin in Duluth since 2012 but had never attended Grandma’s Marathon. This year we decided to check it off of our bucket list. I walked through the finish area the day before the race to watch the workers putting up the stands and finish line.

That day they also had a spaghetti feed for anyone wanting to attend. After some effort I convinced my wife that we should attend. She was worried about the crowds but as it turned out most of the people attended later in the day so we just about had the place to ourselves.

As we were walking around I noticed some folks getting their picture taken with Grandma. I though it was a statue but when I went to get my photo taken it turned out to be a real grandma. She had been doing this for over 20 years.

We also waked through a health fair that was going on at the same time. My wife stopped by to purchase some Crapola. Turns out that it was very good. It is made at their world headquarters in Ely, Minnesota.

That evening I walked down to Canal Park to watch the start of the William A. Irvin 5k. I photographed the first wave of runners and decided that was the end of it. Turns out there were probably five more waves of runners to follow.

When I was looking for information about the race I noticed that the North Shore Scenic Railroad was running a trail up to the start of the race. It would wait for the start and then follow the runners along the course before returning to Duluth in time for you to see the finish of the race. Since we had never been to the race we thought this would be a great way to get an overall view of the race. Given the road clotures it would have been impossible to drive to various points along the race course. Here I am at 5am at the train station.

Turns out that the start of the race is staged at Sonju auto dealership just outside of Two Harbors.


I took most of my photos from the train. It was difficult to photograph from the train tracks because the weeds along the tracks were so high.

As promised the train followed the race course for quite a ways and we were able to watch the runners from a number of locations along the course. They had large water stations setup along the course. The train ride was very enjoyable with lots of local information provided as it steamed along the tracks. It had been over 20 years since we had last been on the train.

When we arrived back in Duluth we walked over near the finish line to watch runners come in. Runners from the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon were still coming in when we stationed ourselves along the course. I clearly had an incorrect view of the Marathon. I though everyone would be young and fit. Turns out all ages and body shapes were in the race. It was really inspiring to watch people finish the race.

It wasn’t long before the first racers from Grandma’s Marathon came along. Apparently the first two runners were running together but at the last water station one runner couldn’t find his special water bottle and he fell behind.

The Elite women were not far behind.

We found out the day of the race that the brother of one of our sons friends was running in the race. We were able to track his progress in the race on our phone so we stayed around to watch him head toward the finish line.

We then walked down the race course to the finish line to see what was happening. When we saw all of the racers bags lined up we were impressed at the organization the whole race must take.

We stopped and took some more pictures of the Menomonie runner so we could send them to his parents.

When we walked back our condo we went up to the skywalk system to watch the the racers come down Superior Street.

The next day when we walked down to Canal Park the cleanup was well underway.

On a recent trip up the North Shore to Split Rock Lighthouse we stopped in Two Harbors to see if there were any ships in the harbor. As it turned out the Tug Donald L. Billmaier and Crane Barge Howard J. Schwartz were just coming into the harbor. The Billmaier is an Army Corps Of Engineers tug. It along with a smaller tug were bringing the crane barge and several barges loaded with rocks to Two Harbors. It looked like they were going to be repairing the breakwater. We watch for a while then continued on to Split Rock.

Tug Donald L. Billmaier and Crane Barge Howard J. Schwartz

Tug Donald L. Billmaier and Crane Barge Howard J. Schwartz

Tug Donald L -Billmaier

Tug Donald L -Billmaier

Tug- Hammond Bay and Tug-Donald L. Billmaier

Tug Hammond Bay and Tug Donald L. Billmaier

The next day we returned to Two Harbors hoping to see the Howard J. Schwartz in action. Unfortunately the crane and the two tugs were docked in the inner harbor. However, there were two ships loading taconite. We watched for a while before heading to Gooseberry Falls for some hiking.

Tugs-Donald-L. Billmaier and Hammond Bay with Crane Barge Howard J. Schwartz

Tugs-Donald-L. Billmaier and Hammond Bay with Crane Barge Howard J. Schwartz

Spruceglen and Philip R. Clarke

Spruceglen and Philip R. Clarke

When we returned later in the day we found the Philip R. Clarke just pulling away from the loading docks before heading out on its Journey through the locks and down to Gary, Indiana.

Philip R. Clarke-

Philip R. Clarke

The 2014 Shipping season started on Lake Superior last Saturday. Early in the morning two Heritage Marine Tugs, the Helen H and Nels J, Helped free the Cason J. Callaway from the ice so it could exit Duluth Harbor.

Later in the morning we drove over to Port Terminal 1 in Duluth where the Presque Isle spent the winter in layup. The Helen H was breaking ice around the Presque Isle so it leave the harbor to load taconite in Two Harbors.Helen-H-and-Presque-Isle-14-3-_1829


The ship’s crew was busy working to get ready for the first voyage of the year. Here they are working on the life boats.Presque-Isle-14-3-_1810

After watching the Helen H work for a while we decided to drive down to Canal Park and see if there were any ducks under the Lift Bridge. As we drove up my wife noticed that the Lift Bridge was up. The Coast Guard Cutter Alder was heading out into Lake Superior. I was so busy watching the Helen H I failed to notice the Alder leave port. We were too late to see it go under the bridge but I managed a shot as it hit the ice just outside the harbor. The Ship Canal was free of ice and it was clear for about a hundred yards out into the lake. There was thick ice out into the lake beyond Brighton Beach.Coast-Guard-Cutter-Alder-14-3-_1825

The Alder made several passes clearing the way for the ships that were schedule to sail to Two Harbors. This is a shot of the Alder as it returned from its first trip.Coast-Guard-Cutter-Alder-14-3-_1848

After Lunch I noticed the Cason J. Callaway was getting ready to depart for Two Harbors. We drove down to Canal Park only to find that it was already out into the lake. Apparently my Marine Traffic App was not working correctly. In fact, I had problems with it the rest of the day. You can see the Alder out in the lake in the background between the anchor and the North Breakwater Light. The Cason J. Callaway was the first ship to leave port for the 2014 season.Cason-J.-Callaway-14-3-_1852

We then decided to drive up to Brighton Beach and watch the Callaway make its way through the ice. It was a surreal scene at Brighton Beach with about a hundred fisherman and cross country skiers out on the ice with the Callaway in the background.Cason-J.-Callaway-Brighton-Beach-14-3-_1856

Just as we were about to leave Brighton Beach we noticed that the Helen H was also heading for Two Harbors. We decided to drive up to Two Harbors to watch the Alder and Helen H break ice before the Callaway docked.

When we arrived in Two Harbors there were already cars in the parking lot with more arriving every minute. Apparently we were not the only ones who thought it would be a good idea to watch the ships come in. It was bitterly cold out with the air temperature about fifteen degrees and a thirty five mile per hour wind.

The Alder was the first to arrive. It sailed around the harbor a couple of times breaking up the ice. I found it strange that the Alder didn’t break up the ice next to the loading docks but it didn’t.Coast-Guard-Cutter-Alder-Two-Harbors-14-3-_1884

The Callaway was the next ship to enter the harbor. Just as it entered the harbor the Helen H arrived to break up the ice around the docks. I always thought that tug boats would be used to help the ships into the docks but they are not required. Cason-J


After the Callaway was docked the Helen H continued breaking ice around the docks.Helen-H-Two-Harbors-14-3-_1919

The Cason J. Callaway, Presque Isle and the John G. Munson are all scheduled to load taconite at Two Harbors this week. When the loading is complete they will form a convoy with several Coast Guard Cutters and head for the Soo Locks. This is the first time since the 70’s that Coast Guard Cutters have been required to escort ships from Duluth to the Soo Locks.

Every time we drive up the Minnesota North Shore we stop at Two Harbors to see if there is any ship activity. A couple of weeks ago we lucked out. It was a foggy morning and just as we pulled into the harbor parking lot we saw the Edger B. Speer backing out of the docks.

Edgar B. Speer

Edgar B. Speer

The first time I saw ships coming into Two Harbors I thought tug boats would be required to move them into and out of the harbor. I was wrong. Even the thousand foot ships are able to maneuver into and out of the docks without assistance. It does take them quite a while but they are routinely able to do it without problems.

Edgar B. Speer

Edgar B. Speer

We watched the Speer exit the harbor into the fog. The Speer kept blowing its fog horn and we could hear an answering response from out in the lake but, because of the fog, could not see another ship.

Edgar B. Speer

Edgar B. Speer

We waited a while hoping the other ship would come into the harbor before deciding to drive back to where the Edna G tugboat was docked and photographed the Army Corps of Engineers dredging the docs.

Edna G

Edna G

We decided to drive back to the harbor and see if the ship that was waiting outside the harbor was going to come in. Just as we drove past the fog cleared enough so we could see the Indiana Harbor steaming into the harbor.

Indiana Harbor

Indiana Harbor

We walked down to the water’s edge and watched it maneuver into the dock area. It is a slow process for one of these large ships to work its way into the docks. A lone kayaker was out in the harbor watching the ship come in.

Indiana Harbor

Indiana Harbor

Indiana Harbor

Indiana Harbor


This past weekend we took a road trip to the Minnesota’s North Shore. We didn’t know what to expect because a major storm had moved through the Northern Wisconsin earlier in the week. Duluth was supposed to receive a major blizzard but it turned out the storm track moved south at the last minute and on the farm we received over 15 inches of heavy wet snow. As we neared Superior we found they had not received any snow. In fact most of the snow was gone from the ground.

Amnicon Falls

Our first two stops were in Wisconsin. Anytime we head for the North Shore we always stop at Amnicon Falls State Park. This was my first visit to the park when the snow and ice were starting to melt so I was able to capture some photos that were not already in my portfolio.

Wisconsin Point Lighthouse

The second stop is usually Wisconsin Point Lighthouse. There was some ice in the harbor entrance and the ice along the shore was piled so high that it was difficult to see the Lighthouse. The recent storm had pushed the ice onto shore.

Two Harbors Lighthouse

That evening we stopped at Two Harbors for a fine dining experience at the Black Woods Bar and Grill. I had hoped to get some nice sunset and sunrise photos but conditions were not all that good. I managed a few photos of the lighthouse and some of the ice hanging on the railings on the breakwater.

Gooseberry Falls

Icy Steps Gooseberry Falls

The next morning we drove up to Gooseberry Falls State Park. I really didn’t expect to find much water running since it had been cold but there was enough running to start the spring breakup of the ice. Again I had never been at Gooseberry when the ice was starting to break up so it offered a different photographic experience. As you can see from the photo on the left the walking conditions are not the best this time of year. We wore traction devices on our boots.

Ice Formation Tettegouche State Park

After Gooseberry we headed on up to Tettegouche State Park. We basically stopped at this park to use the facilities but things quickly changed when we discovered that the storm that passed through earlier in the week created some surreal ice sculptures. I described this stop in the previous post.

Ice Patterns

After spending most of the day at Tettegouche we headed up to Grand Marais to rest up after a difficult day of bushwhacking around Tettegouche looking at the ice formations. We did take a little time to take some photos around the harbor. The day had been warm so what would have been interesting ice patterns among the rocks was just water trapped among the rocks. I concluded that it would be much more interesting after a cold night. We headed off to a great dinner at My Sisters Place and then called it a day.

Ice Patterns

On Sunday morning we again went out to the harbor for some photography and to look at the ice formations. As I anticipated they were much more interesting after the water trapped in the rocks had a chance to freeze.

White-tailed Deer

This is defensive driving  season on the North Shore. On the drive from Two Harbors to Grand Marais we saw well over 100 white-tailed deer along the road. We had to stop 5 times to let them cross the road. The highway is along a south facing slope which is the first area to see snow melt and uncovered grass. The deer seem to gravitate to the area in the early spring. Of course we saw a large number of dead deer along the road. This also attracted crows and bald eagles. We saw at least 15 eagles along the road.

We then headed home with a stop at Betty’s Pies, just outside Two Harbors, for lunch.

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