A Cannon(ada)Ride Around Lake Superior

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Cannonshot, Jun 10, 2012.

  1. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Like many others, I had done the circle tour around Lake Superior in the past. Each time I found that there were places on or near the circle route that I wanted to check out instead of just riding the standard path. Each time I told myself that I would dig a little deeper and spend a little more time enjoying the area the next time I rode it.

    Well . . . this time is finally that "next time". I just spent 8 1/2 days checking things out while circling the lake. The result is that I had a wonderful ride and that I was able to look into a lot of history and visit interesting and scenic places. The scenery around Lake Superior is spectacular but I don't think that many photographs can capture the true splendor.

    As usual, I will share photos, stories, and background information that will help someone else plan their own ride around the lake and perhaps make it a little richer as well.

    As usual, I will be posting a comprehensive GPS file to share.

    Hope you enjoy the ride, and for those that have done it before, I hope it brings back some pleasant memories!

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    GPX can be downloaded here.
    #1
  2. Merlin III

    Merlin III Mean SOB

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    I did something similar last year, but was very lax with the documentation. I am looking forward to reading about your trip. I believe I remember some of the scenery you have posted so far. Thanks for taking the time and effort to post it.
    #2
  3. ROAD DAMAGE

    ROAD DAMAGE Long timer

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    Hey Cannonshot,

    I was just thinking about you last week, and how much I enjoyed your Big Bend Ride Report! I had wondered what you would delve into next. Now I know!

    As always, thanks for the all the voo doo that you do! :clap

    Looking forward to the rest.

    Road Damage .............. Rob
    #3
  4. N-Id-Jim

    N-Id-Jim Been here awhile

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    Can't wait to ride along on this trip!
    #4
  5. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

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    I am looking forward to this. I have had this ride on the back burner for a couple of years. Your preamble hit home...I know what you mean.

    John
    #5
  6. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

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    Hooked on the opening pictures. :lurk
    #6
  7. Monty_Burns

    Monty_Burns Excellent.

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    :lurk

    Looks like another good report is on its way!
    #7
  8. Lifes2short

    Lifes2short Been here awhile

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    Awesome! Wife and I were contemplating doing Superior in a couple weeks. But because we're doing the Cabot Trail in July, we've opted on hiking for a few days in June instead. Looking forward to pics and reading your report, should fill the void till I get out there myself. :D
    #8
  9. bigdon

    bigdon Long timer

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    I'm N ! :freaky
    #9
  10. freeflow

    freeflow get in or go in

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    page 1...:lurk
    #10
  11. Utah Bones

    Utah Bones Gas X ready!

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    Brain in Utah but homeless in Wisconsin....
    :lurk.......
    #11
  12. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    I began this loop in the tiny town of Poplar, WI. Poplar is noted as the hometown for Major Richard Bong - "America's Ace of Aces". I'm often amazed at some of the remarkable people some of these rural areas have produced.
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    Bong was one of nine children of immigrant parents (Sweden) that lived on a farm nearby. He wanted to be a teacher but with the war on he ended up as a P-38 pilot.
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    He had a rough start as a pilot. He had been grounded for flying stunts in the San Francisco area and his unit went to England without him. Eventually he was sent to the Pacific theater with another unit. On his first mission he shot down two enemy planes. He eventually shot down a total of 40 enemy aircraft. Although he was a gunnery instructor, he was a lousy shot so he flew in very close to ensure a kill. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Bong was killed in 1945 while flying a P-80 Shooting Star as a test pilot (primary fuel pump failure). There is a museum in Superior that has a restored P-38 Lightning like the one Bong used to fly.
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    A worthwhile stop is Amnicon Falls State Park.
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    Now and Then falls.
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    Easy access to the falls.
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    That water was really surging.
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    Very nice park. Worth a visit.
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    It is hard to imagine that a hundred years ago that the area wasn't very developed. As people settled the area, services that people needed had to be developed. A Finnish immigrant and homesteader built this windmill out of local materials to grind grain. He operated the mill from 1904 through 1926. Interesting to stand there and look at the construction.
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    I visited the site of a burial ground for a local band of indians. This spot on Wisconsin Point had been used for hundreds of years by the Chippewas.
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    This map shows the shape of the Superior-Duluth harbor. It shows the longest freshwater sandbar in the world that limits access to and protects the harbor.
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    This entrance has been improved from its natural state and is now maintained by the Corps of Engineers to a depth of 32 feet to accommodate the large ore ships. A second harbor entrance has been dredged out on the Minnesota side as well.
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    The pick-up truck has a conservation warden in it keeping an eye on the fishermen nearby.
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    Looking across the bay to Duluth, MN.
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    Some Lake Superior info.
    -largest body of freshwater in the world.
    -mean temperature of 39 degrees.
    -601 feet above sea level.
    -360 miles long, 160 miles wide.
    -average depth 483 feet, max depth 1332 feet.
    -large enough to contain all the other Great Lakes and then some.
    -holds enough water to cover the surface of North and South America with a foot of water.
    -surface area of 31,700 miles (larger than South Carolina).
    -2,276 mile shoreline.
    -fed by 200 rivers.
    -takes 191 years to flush out (versus Lake Erie that flushes in 2.6 years)
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    #12
  13. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Thanks for joining in! I hope that some of the pictures bring back pleasant memories of your own trip.

    Thanks Rob! Glad you liked the Big Bend report and I hope you find this one interesting as well. Less desert on this ride though . . . :D

    Thanks for tuning in Jim! Hope you enjoy the ride.

    John, I hope you find some information here that proves helpful in planning your own trip. Thanks for tuning in!
    Hi Klay! I found a lot of interesting stuff to check out along the way.
    Thanks for joining in Monty! Hope you enjoy it.

    Thanks for tuning in and I hope you find the report useful for your own future trip and entertaining!

    Hi Don. Thanks for riding along!
    Hi Jeffrey! Hope this brings back some pleasant memories of your own loops.
    Thanks for tuning in!
    #13
  14. straightenarrow

    straightenarrow Been here awhile

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    Very excellent reports of yours! New to the site and your reports are top notch. I am going to take a two week trip end of this summer... and this was on my short list!

    Best!
    #14
  15. GP640

    GP640 Long timer

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    Looks like you got the complimentary O.P.P shake down like we did last summer.

    The top of Superior is the reason we take the Trans Canada instead of ducking down
    through the U.S. when we travel to Southern Ontario. Possibly one of the most scenic
    roads in Canada.
    #15
  16. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

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    Yes! Gonna be interesting to see what all I missed during my trip over the top of Lake Superior a few years back due to getting caught in a cold front. I should of know better than to try it at the last days of September. South Louisiana Guy here just hates freezing cold weather. ;-)
    #16
  17. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    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.
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    Taconite comes in to this facility from the iron mines.
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    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.
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    This 1898 firehouse once had horses and a steam powered pump on the first floor. Must have been the ultimate facility at one time.
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    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.
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    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.
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    Seaplane base on the sandbar.
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    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.
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    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.
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    This ship is at the yard right now - probably idled due to low demand.
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    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.
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    She was then repaired and converted to a Great Lakes bulk carrier. She is a self unloader (hence, the conveyor boom).
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    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.
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    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.
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    They also build small assault boats here. Pretty cool boats with water cannons and the like.
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    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.
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    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.
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    Had to stop here for a burger.
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    The place is famous for them. Even been on television.
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    You can see it is a down to earth joint based on the beers on tap. The burgers are remarkably inexpensive.
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    A very worthwhile stop.
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    #17
  18. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Thanks! I'm glad you enjoy the reports. Hope you find this one helpful in your own planning.

    Yeah, no biggie with the OPP, but not what I am used to back home. I agree, it certainly is an incredibly scenic ride.

    Yeah Andy, it does get cold. :D It was cool for much of this trip which was fine with me (riding gear and all). One day it was in the mid 80s and then the wind shifted so that it was coming off the lake. It instantly got to be very cool - quite the contrast for a simple wind shift.
    #18
  19. DocStrange

    DocStrange Artful Doubter

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    Great to see this ride report pop up, Cannonshot. I'll be reading eagerly as I begin planning my own trips out of Milwaukee to parts north.

    Thomas
    #19
  20. LumpyOne

    LumpyOne Been here awhile

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    Looks awesome so far! I plan on doing this route with my son in 4 years so we have some time to plan and Cannon you sure make planning so much easier! I can never say it enough but thanks for everything you do for us!

    Tim
    #20