As a side note, I have close to 1,000 waypints in the GPS file. I have fuel, camping, and points of interest marked. Obviously, I won't be covering every point of interest I visited in this report. If you have a question about something along the way that is not covered in the report, I may be able to give you more information about it and maybe even a picture or two.
The BNSF railroad runs a taconite sorting facility in Superior.
Taconite comes in to this facility from the iron mines.
These docks, like many others still in use, used to be set up to have trains roll right out onto the dock to offload and fill the ship loading bins. The train tracks have been pulled and a huge conveyor now runs from the stockpiles to the dock. Not sure what the advantage is. I guess there will always be enough taconite on hand to sustain an efficient ore boat schedule without having to worry about trains keeping the docks filled.
This 1898 firehouse once had horses and a steam powered pump on the first floor. Must have been the ultimate facility at one time.
Around the time of the Civil War, there was an indian uprising and related massacre in Minnesota. This got settlers in Superior a little alarmed. They quickly organized a home guard and built a stockade (fort) on this now peaceful site. A quick inventory of the neighborhood revealed they only had 60 shotguns, rifles, and pistols. The State of Wisconsin sent 192 muskets and 2 cannons along with a company of soldiers that had been captured by the confederates at Shiloh and paroled. It turned out that the local Chippewa indians remained friendly to the settlers.
Back in 1889, Marty Pattison built this 42 room joint for $189K. Marty was a lumber and mining baron and wanted a place to live in that was appropriate for his status. He lived there with his wife and six kids. When Marty kicked in 1918, his wife donated the place to be used as an orphanage. 2,000 kids lived there over the years up until 1942. In 1963 the city bought the place for $12,500 and was planning to tear it down. Long story short, here it is today, well preserved, serving as a museum.
Seaplane base on the sandbar.
This whaleback ship is on display on Barkers Island. By the way, Barkers is made up of dredge spoil from the harbor. This is the SS Meteor. Between 1888 and 1898 43 whalebacks were launched. This was the beginning of the Great Lakes bulk carrier fleet. 39 of those ships were built right here in the Superior-Duluth harbor. Young Frankie Roosevelt (some of you might know him as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) came to town as a boy to watch one of these ships being launched. While trying to get a better look he fell into the drink and the fire department had to fish him out.
Speaking of building ships, the Fraser shipyard is still going. They started up in 1889 and at one time had the first dry dock on Lake Superior and the largest one on the Great Lakes. There were sometimes 10 ships being constructed here at a time.
This ship is at the yard right now - probably idled due to low demand.
At one time this ship was a tanker. During WWII she served on both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. She is credited with shooting down an enemy aircraft and was bombed while refueling a destroyer in the pacific. In 1958 she was in a collision with another tanker and lost many of her crew.
She was then repaired and converted to a Great Lakes bulk carrier. She is a self unloader (hence, the conveyor boom).
This yard also installed thrusters like this bow thruster. Difficult to control a 700-1,000 foot ship without one. I watched a ship swing into a narrow harbor and back up to an ore dock unassisted. These thrusters help guide a ship through a lock without scraping the sides as well.
Fraser has also done some ship lengthening and shortening jobs. It cut 120' out of an ore carrier to convert the ship to a cement hauler. Some ships are built at ocean shipyards and then brought into the Great Lakes (while they are shorter and can fit) with the intent to lengthen them once they are on the lakes.
They also build small assault boats here. Pretty cool boats with water cannons and the like.
The Eddie Ryerson is one of two straight backs (not a self unloader) left on the Great Lakes. She is thought to be the most beautiful design on the lakes. Being old and inefficient, she is currently idled (kind of like some other things in life), but she does go in and out of service as demand for ore fluctuates.
If you are a polka fan or an accordion player, you might be interested in visiting the accordion museum. It is all things accordion and accordion players. I never knew there was such a thing.
Had to stop here for a burger.
The place is famous for them. Even been on television.
You can see it is a down to earth joint based on the beers on tap. The burgers are remarkably inexpensive.
A very worthwhile stop.