The lift bridge dawns the Duluth/Lake Superior waterscape so it's impossible to miss it but if you can see it rise to let a boat through, it is really a sight.
On this trip to Duluth, I drove across the lift bridge for the first time in my life. It takes you across the canal to another part of Duluth where there are homes and boat launchings, ect.
Canal Park is the area by the canal under the famous and gigantic bridge. There's of course a nice park, the best shopping area in town, and great food! Watch the bridge go up and down, it's fascinating! I've heard that it's the tallest and fastest bridge of it's kind! And takes 50 seconds to lift the road portion of the bridge 138 feet up into the air! It's a really cool looking bridge.
No doubt Duluth's most famous landmark is the unique Aerial Lift Bridge, first raised to ship traffic on March 29, 1930. The bridge's center span crosses the channel of Duluth's shipping canal. It weighs 1,000 tons and is raised and lowered with concrete counterweights at 5,000 tons apiece. The span is raised to a height of 138 feet to accomodate large freighters. We watched as this smaller coast guard vessel (pictured)passed under. An average of 5,500 lifts are made each shipping season. The Aerial Lift Bridge has never been struck or severely damaged in its entire history.
One of the more interesting things we did during our visit to Duluth was tour this immense freighter, once the flagship of U.S. Steel's "Silver Stack Fleet." It is now permenantly docked in the shadows of the Aerial Lift Bridge and serves as a floating ore boat museum. At 610 feet it is longer than 2 football fields and held 14,000 tons of cargo - enough to fill 200 rail cars. It carried iron ore from ports in the Great Lakes. The tour took us from bow to stern, with stops in the pilot house, engine room, aft crew quarters, lounges, staterooms, guest gallery, dining room and the cavernous cargo holds.
The one hour guided tour of the William A. Irvin is offered seven days a week, May - October. It is said to be the most visited ship on the Great Lakes. Tickets are Adults $7.00, Seniors $6.00 and children $5.00. The ticket price includes a self-guided tour to the tugboat Lake Superior, docked beside the freighter.
Constructed at the same time as the South Breakwater Outer Lighthouse, in 1901, the inner light is a steel-cylinder tower with supporting skeleton framework. This lighthouse is somewhat shorter than its neighbor and displays a flashing light produced by a fourth-order bull's eye lens. By lining up the inner and outer lights, mariners can guide their ships safely into the harbor, avoiding offshore sandbars.
The inner lighthouse stands near the base of the Aerial Lift Bridge.
Canal Park is a focal point of the unique things that Duluth has to offer. With the recent development (since I left town over 20 years ago), of hotels, restaurants and shops, the area is a good place to spend time. Of course, there is the museum, bridge, lighthouse, and ship canal all located here, but there are also memorials and ships anchors scattered around the grounds.
On a warm day, it is a pleasant are relax and watch people and boats.
This was my husband's second marathon. I made it through watching him run in five sections of the Chicago marathon last fall and was disappointed to hear that this sort of spectating isn't possible at Grandma's.
Whoever said that was wrong.
Maybe they are just trying to dissuade people from taking to the streets in their cars all over the course, but believe it or not...with careful planning, it is possible to watch and support your runner in multiple locations. And here is how to do it:
Early in the morning, around 7am, arrive somewhere near the 5 mile marker (Knife River). The race begins at 7:45am, so if your runner does 8.5 minute miles (like mine does), you can expect them to come through around 8:30am. Then get in your car and drive to mile 16 (Lakewood Road). Drive down to the end of the road, past the "Road Closed" sign and park along the street. You runner should arive around 10:00am. Then drive back into Duluth. There will be traffic, but don't panic. Stay the course! ;-) Drive through Duluth to the Entertainment Convention Center (where the Expo was). There is a parking lot at the far south side of the center which is mostly just parking on grass. There will be spots open at the far far south end of the lot. If you park quickly and run...you might be able to catch your runner at mile 25, which is just next to the lot. If not, run even faster, across the small blue lift bridge to the finish line area and see them finish the race!
See? It CAN be done!! ;-)
Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge was originally built in 1905 and is one of the key attractions in Canal Park. The original bridge was called a transporter bridge, and it had a gondola that ferried people and goods across the span. It was one of just two transporter bridges ever built in the US.
In 1929 the original bridge was altered and extended to the current configuration. The bridge connects Park Point, to the downtown Duluth. It can rise to the top in about a minute, and is raised about 25 times daily. The bridge is 227 feet high and 386 feet long.
Next to the bridge is an Army Corps of Engineers' maritime museum.
Go to Canal Park and watch the ships go by under the lift bridge. Pictured here is the largest ship on the Great Lakes as it left the canal area in Duluth. It's more than 1,000 feet long! It was pretty cool to see!
The Aerial Lift Bridge is a great opportunity to drive across and to wander around piece of a cities infrastructure. Most bridges, you get to see by driving over it. This one, you can take a boat ride (see Vista Tour tip) under, walk-on, drive across, and stand beneath. You'll hear it, you'll feel it and of course, you'll see it (from afar and up close and personal).
When visiting Duluth for the first time (or the second, or the third..), visiting the Ariel Lift Bridge and the Marine Museum is a must! The lift bridge was the third attempt to connect the city to a penninsula in Lake Superior called Canal Park. This narrow canal is a key to great lakes shipping and it was imperitave that two things needed to happen. People needed to get back and forth from their homes to the mainland and ships needed to pass through the canal. Because of the narrowness of the canal, a normal bridge wouldn't do, so the lift bridge was created. It's a beautiful bridge that believe it or not, Richard I. Bong, a WWII pilot flew his plane under the bridge!
When visiting the bridge, be sure to visit it's next door neighbor, the Marine Museum. Canal Park's Marine Museum draws more visitors than any other museum on Lake Superior. You will find film shows, model ships and exhibits featuring the commercial shipping of Lake Superior and the Duluth-Superior Harbor. At Canal Park you are within yards of giant lake carriers and foreign ships as they pass under the world-famous Aerial Lift Bridge. While you are there, sit back and enjoy the numerous gulls, and walk along the canal's piers to its lighthouses. New exhibits on lighthouses and Lewis & Clark Bicentennial open with assistance from Lake Superior Marine Museum Association. Open year-round. No admission. Programs always free. Groups must register in advance. It's the boatwatchers paradise. Come and enjoy it. Spring (mid March-May): 10am-4:30pm daily, Friday & Saturday closing at 6pm; Summer (June-September: 10am-9pm daily; Fall: (October thru mid-December): 10am-4:30pm; Winter (mid-December thru mid-March): 10am-4:30 pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Duluth has the busiest harbor of any city on the Great Lakes.
(What? You don't believe me? Look it up in the World Almanac.)
When it "lifts", this bridge witnesses the passage not only of Great Lakes freighters, but also ocean-going vessels. Read about who is coming into and who is going out of the harbor in the "Duluth Shipping News," a free daily publication that is distributed near the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center in Canal Park.
On the day that I was there, one ship was entering the harbor carrying limestone, while others were in the process of leaving the harbor with cargos of grain, coal, iron ore, and beet pulp.
Yes, beet pulp. It was being picked up by a Dutch Cargo vessel for shipment to Europe, where it is used for animal feed.
I lived in Duluth for 18 years... and I must say I enjoy Canal park as mus as (or more than) the tourists do. If you go here, explore the shopping down there but be careful for overpriced knicknacks and arts and crafts. Also, go sit by the Lift Bridge and watch cars and boats go by. My friend and I used to sit at the base of there bridge, in front of the safety arms and watch people go by.
Also, you can catch a ferry and go see some Lake Superior or go to Playfront is you have kids. Playfront is a big, old wooden playground. I don't recommend the aquarium. It is costly and full of trout and bass and other things i see at the grocery store. But I must admit, the kids really liked it.
Canal Park is cheap if you just walk around, go on the lakewalk and watch the lake. Fun stuff.
Duluth's most photographed landmark. The Lift Bridge links the mainland to seven-mile long "Park Point," the world's largest freshwater spit.
How appropriate that the world's largest freshwater spit be on the world's largest body of freshwater! (Largest by surface area - Lake Baikal actually contains more water because it is so bizarrely deep.)
Visit the Army Corps of Engineers Museum at the foot of the Aerial Lift Bridge (Duluth's Eiffel Tower.)
It's Free! The Port is what makes Duluth unique and this musuem does a good job of helping the visitor understand what they're seeing in and around the inner Port area.