Thursday, September 12, 2013

Walking in Two Harbors

On Tuesday I woke to just a cloudy day. I had driven to Two Harbors the day before, hitting rather thick fog in the Duluth area. I packed my rain coat just in case rain appeared during the walk.

Two Harbors is all about mining -- not the actual mines, but rather the place the ore is loaded onto lake freighters. Hand in hand with this is/was the railroad service that transported the ore to the lake shore. 

The first part of the walk went along 7th Avenue which is also Highway 61, carrying a lot of traffic along the North Shore. The walk, however, was pleasant, giving me a chance to peek into shop windows. In a 1.5 K the walk route turned right towards the business district.

Here's a view of the Carnegie Library.

 If you click on the link for Two Harbors above, you will learn that the library opened in 1909, built with a $15,000 donation from Andrew Carnegie. I've walked by many Carnegie libraries, routes go here because some walkers keep track of these landmarks. This is the first one I've seen still functioning as a library; this one has an addition built in 1983.

Next I found the Lake County Courthouse.
This is the second building on this site, the first one burned. This building was opened in 1906. The building to the left is called the Sheriff's Residence and Jail. I've seen many courthouses in Minnesota, particularly through my work with the Minnesota Department of Health, and this is the first one to my knowledge that includes a sheriff's residence as part of the courthouse complex.

The walk continued through the small business district. The map told me to walk through the parking lot to the first locomotive. This is what I found.

 The signs around it explained that this is a Yellowstone locomotive. Only 72 were ever made in the United States. Empty-- no coal or water -- it weighs 400 tons. It takes 26 tons of coal  and 25,000 gallons of water (94,600+ liters) to make it fully operational. The benefit of this engine is that is had tremendous powers at slow speeds. Its top speed is 45 mph, but to carry a similar load today would require 4 diesel engines. This retired engine has been prepared to stand the demands of outside weather.

Across the street was an even older engine.

We can only admire this one; I couldn't find any explanatory information.

My next instruction for this 10K walk was to find the path along a "cyclone fence." Well, this must a regional term. I don't know exactly what is a cyclone fence, but Mr. Google does. It's a chain link fence. Well, there was only fence so I could hardly go wrong. I was directed to follow this path along the lake shore towards the lighthouse and breakwater.

Here I found historical signs about Agate Bay, a town once right along the lakeshore, not set back about 2 kilometers as is the present day Two Harbors. The signage explained this town was full of trouble, whiskey, and loose living -- but went on to explain that this history comes from the railroad company documents, the railroad companies very much wanting the lake shore for their operations. In other words, history written by the victor, for what I saw is the ruins of huge coal storage yard, needed obviously when it took 25 tons to just get the steam up for a trip of transporting ore.

Later when at home I did a bit more research and found originally there was also a second town, Burlington. This town has also disappeared and the writer of this web site did not take it to the conclusion that I reached that Two Harbors is named to represent the  original Agate Bay and Burlington harbors and the towns associated with each.

I have always told myself that if I can see where I'm heading, it's not a long journey, but the way to the lighthouse and breakwater did look a bit far!

The weather was indeed more comfortable than the pictures may look. The temperature was around 70 degrees (21C), a lovely change from the recent time when I had to be out at 6 AM to avoid the excessive heat.

I walked about 5 minutes towards the light house, walking most of the time along the ruins of the coal storage yard. Indeed it had been an immense area, an area needed to feed the voracious steam engines.

On the way I passed a ship propeller. A nearby sign explained that this 10 ton bronze object belonged to the Eugene W. Pargny, a ship that called Two Harbors its home port. It sailed the Great Lakes between 1917-1984.

At last I was at the end of the breakwater, but I was not the only walker. There is a parking lot here and many got out of their cars to walk the breakwater. In addition there were quite a few fishermen trying their luck.The breakwater was about 6 feet across with a fence on the shore side. It was easy walking. My task was to walk to the end of the breakwater and see what words were written on the legs and door of the little lighthouse at the end. The answer:

Perhaps the picture is not totally clear. It says: "Danger, Intense Sound may occur at any time." In addition, under the small light house there was another sign that warned one not to walk any further. Indeed in about 20 more steps one would be walking off the end and falling into Lake Superior -- not a good thing.

Walking back I got a good view of the large light house.

This light house is no longer in service and is now operated as a bed and breakfast along with a gift shop.

Now the route map said to walk through the arch. All the time I had been walking towards the light house I had been searching for an arch. Couldn't see anything. Then the trail turned abruptly right between some trees and there I found this.

I had been expecting something far more grand. The trail now took me along Agate Bay.

It never ceases to amaze me that I can leave a large metropolitan area in southern Minnesota and in 2-3 hours of driving find myself in such a different environment.

The route map told me walk until I came to a Y in the trail. I kept doing that until I almost found myself walking off a ledge that would make me fall into the Burlington Bay. I noticed a small, lesser used trail winding through the trees. It seemed to be going north and west which were the directions I needed to head.

While walking through the forest I kept noticing some trees that looked like this:

 If any reader knows why, I'd surely like to know!

I walked about another 5 minutes through the trees and was glad to see buildings in the distance. Eventually I walked out of the forest and found a "paved trail heading to the right."

I followed the trail up a hill, getting a splendid view of a field.

 I had been noticing these yellow weed/wildflowers everywhere, but they were most splendid on this hillside.

Close up the blossom looks like this:

The took me eventually to back into the town and through a city park.
 On one side was a small forest, planted in honor of men who have died in American wars. On the other side was Burlington Bay.

With about another 10 minutes of hiking I found myself again crossing Highway 61 near a Holiday gas station. I was very glad to see there were tables and chairs inside. I was ready for a rest. I got a Magnum ice cream bar -- they're not just only in Poland -- and sat down to enjoy that and do some some reading.

Continuing on I walked along a golf course. I enjoyed the view of this pond.

 The remainder of the walk went through residential areas. I was amused at what someone had done to the garage.

I stopped at the McDonald's by the hotel, the hotel being the start/finish place for this walk. Lunch tasted good and I enjoyed putting my feet up.

This was indeed a great walk.

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