This mansion belonged to the Congdon family, the head of which was the richest man in Minnesota for many years. I have not included any pictures of the inside because you're not allowed to take pictures inside, but it is absolutely stunning. There are 39 rooms in the mansion, and they are all worth seeing. These must be seen through a tour. The guides are very friendly and informative, and all really know their facts and interesting tidbits about the place. The grounds outside can be explored unguided, including the gardener's house, the carriage and sled of the family, the gardens, and the Juliet balcony out front. There is also an absolutely gorgeous view of Lake Superior from the pebble beach in front of the mansion. They frequently have weddings here, as it is an absolutely gorgeous place. If you're interested in learning about how people lived in the early 1900s, if you enjoy looking at lavish homes, or even if you just like having a lovely and interesting afternoon outdoors, I definitely recommend this!
One of Duluth's greatest pleasures is simply strolling along the Lakewalk. This is an excellent way to see the city and Lake Superior. Learn about the city, and observe passing ore carriers, freighters, and othe ships. And get some good exercise.
The SS William A Irvin is a fine example of an ore carrier. She was once the flagship of US Steel's Great Lakes fleet. These are the world's largest fresh-water ships. About the size of ocean-going container ships, they are built to carry iron ore from the mines of northern Minnesota to the steel mills of Pennsylvania.
Next to it is the tugboat Lake Superior. This type of boat enables the huge ore carriers to maneuver into and out of the loading docks.
Since my visit, the Coast Guard cutter Sundew has been added to this fine museum.
Chester A. Congdon was a successful lawyer in Duluth during the 19th century. He was a very astute investor as well. He foresaw the development of new mining technology, and bought large tracts of land in Minnesota which were not yet being mined because it was not yet economical to do so. When the new technology became available, his land holdings mulitiplied in value. He made a fortune selling them to mining companies.
He then built this grand house, from 1905 to 1908. The interior has exquisitely carved mahogany, truly a sight to behold (sorry, no photos allowed inside). It was named Glensheen after the way the light was reflected off the small creek that flows through the property.
Operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, the Marine Museum offers an overview of the history of Great Lakes shipping in this region. There are a number of interesting exhibits, including a simulation of a freightor's pilothouse that allows you to imagine you are steering an ore through a November gale. And it's free.
Check out the link to see what the weather's doing in Duluth. Is it snowing yet?
A wonderful 2.5 mile Lakewalk traces the shore of Lake Superior, fronting the Duluth downtown area. Along the way one can take in the beauty of the lake and the fascinating lure of a working port with foreign with domestic vessels sailing nearby. Along the walk we saw historic architecture and modern sculptures as well as several charming shops and restaurants. The Lakewalk also passes the Northland Vietnam Veterans Memorial and on the far western end is a rose garden with 3,000 bushes, although we were there too early in the season to enjoy the bloom. Lake Superior, the world's largest freshwater lake, looks and acts much more like an ocean than the average lake. We were there on a windy day and in places the surf was crashing over the Lakewalk, as you can see in our picture.
More than beautiful lake views and touristy shops, Duluth's waterfront also offers an expression of art. Along the waterfront you will find an outdoor gallery of international sculptures. The series represents the social, cultural and historical values of Duluth and its Sister Cities in Vaxjo, Sweden; Thunder Bay, Ontario; Petrozavodsk, Russia; and Ohara, Japan.
Pictured is "Spirit of Lake Superior," a bronze sculpture by internationally acclaimed artist Kirk St. Maur of Payson, IL. It celebrates the Anishinabe (Ojibwe) American Indian culture of past, present, and future. The symbolic figure wears the old style (18th & 19th century) puckered moccasins and carries a birch bark tray used for winnowing wild rice.
Glensheen Mansion sits on 7 acres of Lake Superior Shoreline and includes beautifully manicured grounds, carriage house with a carriage collection, gandner's cottage (he lived there until his death in 2004) and a clay tennis court. The home was built by Chester and Clara Congdon and was inherrited by their daughter, Elizabeth who lived there until her murder there in 1978. Her son-in-law was convicted of the murder but many speculate the main one behind it was her adopted daughter, Marjorie. The tour gives no mention of the murders (a night nurse was also killed that night) by orders of the family, but books are available about it at most other gift shops. She was killed in the 2nd floor bedroom on the right as you come up the stairs. The night nurse was found dead on the stairway landing. If you are not interested in touring the mansion itself, you can get just a grounds pass and walk around the estate.
Downtown Duluth is a little rough around the edges... and rough in the middle. We stayed at the Best Western on 2nd Street, and we weren't even sure if we wanted to spend the night here, let alone go out to find dinner. The hotel was a dump, and the drive in on 2nd Ave made the town look like a ghetto. I finally talked my dad into taking a little walk once I Googled local restaurants and saw a few down by the water. During our walk down there, we were still a little worried, as we passed such fine places as the town strip club (live midget wrestling!), the tiny little smoky casino, and the local hot spot called Electric Fetus.
Once we finally got down by the water, the feel of the town changed, but the historic downtown area really seems to be hurting.
Two pier head lighthouses are located in Duluth. These guide ships into the Duluth Canal. The north pier light (accessible from Canal Park) was built in 1910 and is a traditional round tower. It's only 37 feet (11 meters) tall and is made of cast iron. The south pier light was was built in 1901. There had been a previous light here since 1874. This is actually a more traditional style for the Great Lakes, with housing for the lightkeeper built into the design.
Canal Park is where all of the investment and tourism in Duluth goes. Here you have numerous hotels, restaurants, bars and other tourist attractions like the canal and drawbridge. We had dinner at the Green Mill, saw the drawbridge go up and a ship pass through, then grabbed a few beers at Old Chicago's.
Compared to downtown this area is booming. It seems that this is where all of the tourists spend their time.
Officially called the St Louis County Heritage and Arts Center, this museum is commonly known as the Depot. It has a lot of local artwork, reflecting Minnesota's Scandanavian heritage and culture. It also has some good historical exhibits.
Built in 1892 by the Boston firm of Peabody, Stearns and Furber, this building is a fine example of the French Norman style. In 1910, it served seven rail lines, with thousand of travellers passing through its doors daily. It's now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Lake Superior Marine Museum, located next to the canal, is a treasure for anyone with an interest in seafaring.
It has some great exhibits, including one on the ill-fated ore carrier Edmund Fitzgerald, immortalized in song by Gordon Lightfoot. Until I came here, I never realized how treacherous the Great Lakes are. Plenty of scale models, displays of engines, and a lot about the ecology of the Great Lakes.
During the winter there are times when the winds get so high that ‘ice chunks fly’ into the shore. You must drive up the North Shore some to view this. Very pretty. There are also some winters when Lake Superior freezes perfectly, allowing people to walk on the ‘water’ and see to the bottom of the lake.
Richard Bong is America's "Ace of Ace's", shooting down 40 planes in his career as a fighter pilot in the Pacific Theater in WWII. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman.
He was born in Superior, Wisconsin in 1920 and grew up nearby in Poplar,WI. He was only 24 years old when he died in 1945, the same day that the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan when the P-80 Saber he was test piloting crashed during a take-off when the engine failed.
He flew P-38 Lightnings during the war, of which there are only about 30 known survivors, making the P-38 in the museum worth around 1 million dollars.
The museum gives a brief but good overview of the war and spends time highlighting the home effort from women workers, girl scouts and the war bond effort.
There are numerous video narratives giving brief overviews on the various theaters of war, the Bong family and the women of the Duluth/Superior area.
Other artifacts on exhibit are various "souviners" taken home by American servicemen such as German and Japanese weapons, helmets and flags.
You can also use the flight simulators to fly a P-38. There is a two min. time limit and you need to get a code for the machines from the information desk to use them.
The museum is informative, entertaining and very much worth a visit. Plan for about 2 hours for a normal visit.
May through October: Open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
November 1 to May 1: Open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Holidays: Closed New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Phone toll-free 1-888-816-9944 for other holiday hours.
General Admission: $9.00
Students age 13 thru college $8.00
Children ages 6-12: $7.00
Children ages 5 and under:free
Family Rate (2 adults in the same household and up to 4 children under age 13):$25.00
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