Lighthouses & shipping

Desperately seeking Lake Erie
September 15, 2012 by Andrew Slade

Desperately seeking Lake Erie

Steamship William G. Mather docked in downtown Cleveland. My hotel was by the distant ornate tower above the Mather's bow. After 25 years in Duluth, I have a pathological need to orient myself to big water. At home, I open the window shade and BAM, there's Lake Superior and I know where I am.  In Duluth, Lake Superior is easy to reach from most of the city's shore area. From the Downtown Lakewalk to the end of Park Point it's public land and easily accessible. You can leave your hipster brewpub on Superior Street, cross I-35 in urban … read more


Check out the new wayside at Split Rock
October 26, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Check out the new wayside at Split Rock

If you've driven on the North Shore this summer, you surely experienced the traffic back ups for construction in the Split Rock area. MnDOT completed a two-year-long project straightening out Highway 61 just west of the Lighthouse. The new highway is gorgeous, wide and fast.The new highway alignment runs about 200 yards away from one of the North Shore's most distinct wayside rests, a classic pull-off with a great view of Split Rock Lighthouse and the open waters of Lake Superior. For the traveler dedicated to enjoying Lake Superior, this is a great change. Follow the spanking new blue "Wayside Rest" … read more


Near collision in Duluth Ship Canal
June 17, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Near collision in Duluth Ship Canal

BBC Orinoco headed for the wall of the Duluth Ship Canal South Pier BBC Orinoco after evasive maneuvers The BBC Orinoco came uncomfortably close today to a collision with the South Pier Lighthouse. At the time, a thick fog was on the lake, and a strong current was running out of the Duluth Ship Canal. Even as the announcer from the Marine Museum was announcing the arrival of the boat, the boat itself could barely be seen in the fog. As the ship's bow came out of the fog at 2:00pm, the ship was headed directly for the edge of the … read more


Big, free day at Split Rock Lighthouse
June 9, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Big, free day at Split Rock Lighthouse

Saturday, June 11, is the annual open house at all Minnesota State Parks. That means all one-day vehicle permits are free. Perfect! Now you can join me for a great guided hike Saturday at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.Most North Shore state parks have trails and landmarks that are open only to those with vehicle permits. This weekend, use this opportunity to explore these trails and landmarks for free. At Gooseberry Falls State Park, the open house lets you visit the whole lakeshore area with its dramatic stone buildings and open, rocky Picnic Flow. At Tettegouche State Park, the free … read more


Book Review: Safe from the Sea, by Peter Geye
May 22, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Book Review: Safe from the Sea, by Peter Geye

The North East Minnesota Books Award winners were announced last week, and the winner for fiction is....the North Shore and Lake Superior!! Actually, it was the debut novel of Peter Geye, Safe from the Sea. Ostensibly the story of reconciliation between father and son, the real star of the book is ominous Lake Superior and the colorful communities and people that cling to the lake's edges. This is a short novel sprinkled with cultural references familiar to anyone who's spent some time in Duluth and on the North Shore. The names have been changed, but you can spend time at the Anchor … read more


A pirate ship on Lake Superior
April 29, 2011 by Andrew Slade

A pirate ship on Lake Superior

It was a scene right out of Pirates of the Caribbean. The efficient crew of the salty ship left the harbor at first light and was seen sailing away into the sunrise. At 6:00 AM today, the BBC Orinoco slipped through the Duluth Lift Bridge and headed out to safety. No pirate attacks in this harbor.The ship was the BBC Orinoco, and the crew had good reason to fear pirates...they and their good ship were attacked by pirates just six months ago, as they sailed the Arabian Sea. It's a great story. Pirates boarded the vessel. The crew retreated to their … read more


The Presque Isle heads out…two boats in one!
March 30, 2011 by Andrew Slade

The Presque Isle heads out…two boats in one!

The Presque Isle headed out onto Lake Superior this morning from the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge. It's eerie to watch these ships emerge from behind the ice dunes that still line the beach. Presque isle is French for "almost an island." The boat is really "almost a boat." It's a combination of a barge and a "push tug," both with the same name. The tugboat part fits very neatly into the stern of the barge part, and both add up to a single unit over 1000 feet long. There are pictures of the two parts at Boatnerd.Presque Isle is also the … read more


Wandering over the fog with Casper David Friedrich
December 16, 2010 by Andrew Slade

Wandering over the fog with Casper David Friedrich

My morning walk along Lake Superior with the dog is normally pretty lonely and quiet. This morning, the sea smoke was roiling out of the open waters, rising higher in the crisp cold air than normal and hiding a saltie out at anchor. A tugboat slipped out of the ship canal and headed out toward the saltie. The tug boat sound its horn, an unusual sound for winter. There was one other person on the beach this morning. I think it was Steve, a photographer and reporter for the Duluth paper. There we were, two writer/photographers looking through the fog for … read more


Canal Park: Gorgeous and free
November 10, 2010 by Andrew Slade

Canal Park: Gorgeous and free

Great news, Duluth residents and fans of the REAL North Shore. You can come back to Canal Park now. Parking is free and plentiful. Park at a meter and pay nothing; it's after October 15th.  The gulls have left the Marine Museum and are hanging dolefully on the South Pier. Virtually no need to fear gull droppings in your hair. The gates on the South Pier have been closed, but the North Pier, on the busy Canal Park side of the Canal, is still open for all. And the late fall light is gorgeous, turning everything blue and aglow, like … read more