Port City of Duluth, MN

Duluth, MN

After our stay in Marquette, MI we headed west about 250 miles to visit Superior, WI and Duluth, MN.   Superior and the neighboring city across the bay, Duluth, form a single metropolitan area called the Twin Ports.  They share a harbor that is one of the most important ports on the Great Lakes.  We parked the motorhome in a small RV park just outside of Superior and headed out with the Jeep across the John Blatnick Bridge to visit Duluth, the nicer of the Twin Port cities.

Welcome to Minnesota

This is the big business of Duluth – Shipping

The business district of the city of Duluth is along the shoreline of Lake Superior, below a steep hillside.  The hillside is filled with residential neighborhoods.

Looking at the business district with the residential hillside behind it

Looking down from the residential hillside. The Blatnick Bridge to Superior, WI is in the middle of the picture

To help people survive the extreme cold of long winters in Duluth, the downtown is connected by a 3.5 mile indoor skywalk system that allow pedestrians to travel all across the downtown in climate-controlled comfort.

A Skywalk pedestrian bridge between buildings

One of the best known landmarks of the city is the Aerial Lift Bridge, spanning the Duluth Ship Canal into Duluth’s harbor.  The lift raises part of the roadway straight up to allow shops to enter and leave Duluth Harbor.

 

Partially raised to allow a small yacht to go under

The bridge in its lowest position

We think that one of the best ways to visit a city is on a bicycle.  So for our visit to Duluth we drove just north of the main section of the city, parked the Jeep, and road back to the downtown on the Lakewalk, a paved riding/walking path along Lake Superior.

The Lakewalk, with the Ariel Lift Bridge in the distance

A mermaid resting along the lake shore

We really wanted to get a view of the port area and learn about all the shipping facilities, so we decided to take a cruise on a harbor tour boat.

The first part of the tour took us under the Ariel Lift Bridge through the canal into Lake Superior.  As we cruised along the lake shore we saw the freighter pictured below approaching the canal.

Our tour ship followed it into the harbor so we were able to watch it go through the canal and under the Lift Bridge with the roadway raised to the highest position.

Later in the tour we passed that same freighter maneuvering into a dock to take on a load of coal.  When we crossed the bridge the next morning it had already sailed away.

When we first crossed the bridge heading into Duluth, we spotted a large stone tower at the top of the hillside.  So we drove up to investigate and found it to be the Enger Tower.

Built in 1939, Enger Tower is a 5 story structure, constructed of Blue Stone taken from the region, that sits at the very top of the hillside 531′ above the level of Lake Superior.  The tower was dedicated by Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Martha of Norway in honor of Bert Enger, a native of Norway who came to this country and became a successful furniture dealer.  At the time of his death Mr. Enger donated two thirds of his estate to the city of Duluth.  This included the land known as Enger Hill which includes Enger Tower, the park and Enger Golf Course.

Duluth from the top of the Enger Tower

Duluth is a very nice city nestled along the shores of Lake Superior, at least in the summer months.  What it is like in the dead of a long, cold winter is something we will never experience!

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27 Responses to Port City of Duluth, MN

  1. Gay says:

    What a beautiful tower…I love the stones.
    And what a unique design for the bridge…way cool!
    Looks like you are having great weather.

    • placestheygo says:

      Gay, we really have had beautiful weather while in this area…temps in the high 60’s, low 70’s, lots of sun, and no humidity. We’ve also been lucky and not had a bug problem.

      We had lots of fun watching the bridge especially following the laker through.

  2. jcgc50 says:

    Thanks for taking us to Duluth and Marquette, MI. Not sure we’ll ever visit those cities but they actually look inviting.

  3. That’s an interesting bridge isn’t it? We were lucky enough to be just approaching it when the barrier came down for a ship to come through! We enjoyed touring Duluth but like you, we wouldn’t return in winter!

  4. LuAnn says:

    Thanks for the great tour of Duluth. We are sorry we didn’t take the time to explore this city when we were in the area. Those steep streets really does remind one of San Francisco. I am going to have to do some research into whether you can climb onto the aerial bridge to watch the ships pass underneath. It seems I have read that somewhere. Love the mermaid shot! 🙂

  5. Pam Leonard says:

    Funny, when I visited I thought Superior was nicer! It depends on your perspective, I liked that Superior wasn’t a “city”. I missed the things you saw though, and I did mean to return and check out Duluth more another time.

    • placestheygo says:

      Pam, I guess Duluth attracted us because of the shipping and the Lakewalk. We’ve watched the ships pass by for years on the St. Lawrence River in Clayton, NY, so it was nice to learn about the destination of many of the vessels. Also…Duluth has two Starbucks:)

  6. Those big ships are fascinating! We’ve seen similar ones here in Port Angeles. Very neat that you got to follow it through the draw bridge. Looks like a very nice place to visit…in the summer ONLY! 😉

  7. Ingrid says:

    For many years, our summer vacation would include a 2 week trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area just north of Grand Marais up to Gunflint Lake. Our drive from IL would always take us through Duluth and although we rarely stopped in this city, we found the active harbor fascinating. Great tour, guys 🙂

    • placestheygo says:

      Our next visit to this area will include a trip further north to this Boundary Water Canoe Area and Grand Marais. We only got as far as the Split Rock hiking trail north of Two Harbors. We had no idea there was so much to see in northern MN.

  8. Nan & John says:

    You have given us more insight regarding MN. We just might need to make it on our list of to-sees. Thanks for the photos and information.

  9. Jodee Gravel says:

    Seeing it now, it is hard to picture all that snow and ice. The enclosed walkways are a great way to keep the downtown from being a ghost town in the winter! I always find a working dock and shipyard so fascinating – the size and capacity of those huge tankers and barges blows the mind. A very rare sighting of that lovely mermaid!

    • placestheygo says:

      I agree, Jodee, that seeing this city sitting so nicely along the beautiful lake will not be attractive soon (to some of us). So many closed walkways sure did some up winter here:)

  10. pmbweaver says:

    Awesome header photo.

    Duluth looks very lovely. We have friends that part-time and live in Two Habor, north of Duluth. They love that area. They are always asking us to come up. After seeing your photos, I think we better put this on our list.

    The mermaid on the rocks is beautiful. WOW…how lucky your two were to catch her sun bathing. Wonder where her Starbuck’s coffee is?

    What a great idea…the cruise. Everyone told us that the next time we get to Chicago, we have to take the architectural boat tour. Kelly and Carrie did it a few years back and said it was fantastic.

    Looks like another day of living the good life!

    • placestheygo says:

      Actually, Marsha, we did get up to Two Harbor and beyond to go hiking. That is the next blog:) We were so surprised by how large Two Harbor was. I thought it was going to be a little nothing town. Boy was I wrong.

      The beautiful mermaid was on her way to Starbucks! There was one just up the street that we biked to.

      Either a boat tour or a city bus tour sure does a wonderful job in helping to understand an area. The ships were fascinating because we have watched them go by at my mother’s for years. Now we know where they were going!

      Yes, is has been another great time visiting an unknown area:)

  11. Laurel says:

    Duluth looks absolutely charming! I had no idea — but since we’ve not yet traveled in that part of the country, there’s a lot we don’t know about. Thanks for providing such a great tour. Love the photo of you on the rocks, Pam!

  12. Sherry says:

    I second the idea that northern Michigan and Minnesota have lots of terrific things to see in the summer. 🙂 We aren’t city people so we only drove through the Twin Ports on our way to Bayfield WI. I really like the bike the city approach. I might do that. I’m wondering why they have left bridges rather than draw bridges. Do the lifts allow the auto traffic to continue?? LOVE the mermaid. I had no idea the Great Lakes had mermaids. Lucky shot I guess!!

    • placestheygo says:

      Yes, Sherry, this was a rare sighting I believe of the Lake Superior mermaids…haha!

      Traffic stops every time they raise the bridge which they do constantly. Sometimes it stays up for quite a while.

      These smaller cities are quite interesting. It is amazing how much each area offers. It seems most places have bike trails and we enjoy visiting the cities and town using our bikes.

  13. I did a double take, for a moment I thought you were already in San Francisco! And then I knew there are no mermaids in the Bay Area when I lived there:)
    I wonder if this lovely mermaid would still be in lake superior when we visit there, if not thank you for a great tour today and the interesting story about the bridge.

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