Monday, September 4 & 5 2017- Travel days #32 and 33
September 4: We might not be the sharpest pencil in the box but we do learn from past experience. Google maps recommends retracing our route back to the North Shore Highway, Highway 61 via State Route 1- the bing bang boom highway that jarred our fillings loose. Nope, not doing that. We chose to head west southwest on combined highway 191/SR 1 out of town to Peyla where SR 1 goes west and 191 heads south. We will then take US 53 to Duluth a distance of just over 100 miles.
Things start off swimmingly- no traffic and the road is smoooooth. About 5 miles out of Ely the road changes. The road maintenance crew is straightening out the old road- a plus. They let the existing road turn to crap- a minus. The road is bad for about 10 miles then again is smooooooth! Yes!
All goes well. We pass through Soudan (450 souls) which is home to Soudan Underground Mine State Park The U. of Minnesota has and underground laboratory inside the mine and both are open for tours. Next is Tower (pop. 500) which is named for Charlemagne Tower and owes it’s establishment to the Soudan Mine. It is known for two facts- it’s the oldest city in the Arrowhead region and on February 2, 1996 the temperature dropped to -60 degrees, making it the lowest temperature ever recorded in the U.S. east of the Great Plains.
Laurentian Divide Rest Stop
We merge on to US highway 53 and head south. Just north of the Four Cities area (Virginia, Eveleth, Iron Junction, and Gilbert) we encounter an interesting rest stop named for the Laurentian Divide, a rare three- way continental divide. Water falling here in the Giants Range may flow either north into icy Hudson Bay, east into the Atlantic Ocean, or south into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, Eveleth MN
Eveleth (3700 souls) was platted in 1893. Iron ore was discovered beneath the village site so the village was moved to its present location. Most folks wouldn’t know the Eveleth is home to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. I sure didn’t. We land at our park for two nights, Buffalo Campground 10 miles south of Duluth.
Buffalo Valley Campground, Duluth MN
The park has a full blown restaurant, 3 softball fields and sand volleyball courts. It holds all kinds of softball and volleyball tourneys throughout the summer. The campground is nice, some sites are deeply shaded and some not as much. The locals state that it’s been a cool and wet summer……..
September 5: This is visit Duluth morning. It’s a pleasant morning as of yet to threaten rain. Duluth (86,000 souls) is a major port city, accessible to ocean going vessels. She shares the harbor with Superior, WI and together are the Great Lakes largest port.
The Duluth MN/ Superior WI Port
At the turn of the 20th century the port was booming. The population contained more millionaires than New York City. We chose to first visit Canal Park located on the waterfront downtown. The park is interesting in that it’s not a park in the common sense but a bustling commercial area with great looking buildings and interesting businesses.
The Lakewalk paved walking trail lies between the park and the lakeshore. Dual lighthouses stand sentry duty on either side of the canal entrance. Nearby is the Aerial Lift Bridge. Originally designed as a transporter bridge in 1905 the bridge was converted to a vertical lift bridge in 1930.
Canal Leading to Port/ Guardian Lighthouses/ Aerial Lift Bridge
Leaving Canal Park we spot this huge brick tower. Under it lies the old Central School Building. Traveling north we pass many more older buildings. Seems like brick is used almost exclusively in the construction of commercial buildings here. Downtown is clean and tidy.
We stop at Lief Erickson Park to literally smell the roses blooming there. Just up the street is a nice grocery store- we go in and make purchases to restock our shelves. We cruise a few residential streets admiring the lovely old homes. We head home to enjoy some warmth and avoid the inevitable rain showers. It’s time for lunch. We eat at the Buffalo House restaurant located steps from our RV- and the food is good!
Sights in and Around Erickson Park
Tomorrow we will travel through a portion of Wisconsin to the U.P.- the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Striking Flora at Buffalo Valley Campground