Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, the Briefest Possible Stop at Gooseberry Falls State Park, Two Harbors, and Canal Park in Duluth
The picturesque, octagonal-towered Split Rock Lighthouse, was built after the disastrous November 1905 storm that claimed eleven lives and nine ships on the relatively small Lake Superior coastline of Minnesota, one of which sunk just north of the hundred-fifty foot cliffs on which the lighthouse sits. At the time of construction the location of the lighthouse was extremely remote and there were not any access roads, which necessitated the delivery of all the construction materials by ship. After construction – and until 1934 when a road was constructed – all the supplies for the lightkeeper and the lighthouse itself were hauled up over a hundred feet on a steep, narrow track tramway.
Leaving Split Rock we continued south intending to stop and hike at Gooseberry Falls State Park, arguably the most popular and the most recommended of the state parks on the North Shore. Well, we stopped for fifteen minutes and fled. Seriously, it was like walking in a shopping mall. We then made our way to the town of Two Harbors where we stayed a day and a half, waling the shore, checking out the iron ore ships being loaded, and trying out the local brewery – Castle Danger. My favorite was the 17-7 Pale Ale, Tom’s the Nordic (juniper-rye) Lager.
Our last stop in Minnesota was the Canal Park Waterfront District where we spent the 4th of July. The area was crowded with restaurants and shops, but I was interested in seeing the three harbor lights and the aerial lift bridge that connects the mainland to Sand Point. The bridge lifts an average of every twenty minutes to admit pleasure craft and large ships alike to the canal, rising as much as a hundred twenty feet for the tallest boats. Once we accomplished our dual lighthouse-slash-bridge mission we settled in on the patio of the Canal Brewing Company to escape the crowds and try some local beer.