2018 Summer Road Trip – Duluth

Duluth got its start as a shipping hub along lake Superior. Its peak population was in 1950 like many cities in the Rustbelt. It has its museums and its venues and its shops but it clings long and tightly to the lake. Lakeward is a direction in this area in the same way that out West “mountainward” is a direction. We mulled our options for the morning and afternoon before heading out to make our tour of the Soudan mine. The options were: Accordion Museum, Great Lakes Aquarium, or the Glensheen Mansion. The last was listed as The Murder House by the internet so, after finding out the Accordion museum was only open like 10 hours a week and we’d be there for none of them, we opted for the Murder House.

Me: Two tickets please.
Cashier: For which tour?
Me: The murder-iest tour.
Cashier: We don’t talk about the murders.
Me: You sell a book in the giftshop called “The Murders at Glensheen”.
Cashier: But we steer away from that on the tour.
Me: Given what I’ve said, what tour do you recommend?
Cashier: Whichever you wish.
Me: Not helping, boss.
Cashier: The next open tour is in 3 hours.
Me: That settles that.

We departed and tried to catch an earlier tour at the Soudan Mine which would take us deep into Minnesota. The drive was gorgeous and with a speed limit of 50-65 miles we got almost 40 miles to the gallon that tank. Roadside constructs started to appear like the two or three storey Tinman with what I can only describe as Kardashian-esque lips. The trip was through forest studded with wetlands and lakes. We followed behind cars puttering around 55 and adaptive cruise control proved helpful. When following another car, my Subaru would easily slow down to a full stop at a stop sign, and then resume when the car in front has passed the intersection.

The Soudan mine was a iron ore mine that produced oxygen-rich ore that was common before the advent of the modern blast furnace.  The rise of modern blast furnaces and the incredibly rich ore seams in the Iron Range shut down the mine in favor of taconite ore which could be surface mined.  The shaft into the mine drops a half mile winding up 600 feet or so below sea level at a constant 51 degrees Fahrenheit.  The tour started out 3/4s of a mile from the shaft and worked its way back and forward in time from the 1880s to the mine’s closure in the 1960s.  After surfacing, I asked to drone and was informed it was not permitted in Minnesota parks but they were working on it.  The Vermillion Soudan area previously held a neutrino detector which had been removed the previous year….just missed it.  We stopped at the sole store in Soudan for ice cream and gas and continued on to Ely on the way to Grand Portage.  My travel partner looked at the history of Ely while we were waiting for our dinner to make it to table and she calculated that had she visited in 2000 she would have approximately 8% of Ely’s Asian population.

That evening was in a hostel where of the 12 inhabitants, both human and canine, I was the sole male.  I hope I’d wake up.

This post was made on 2018-07-31 and is backdated.