Tips for Travelers
• For the most part, streets (Superior Street, 1st Street, etc.) run relatively east and west (or “across”); avenues run relatively north and south (or “up and down”). Lake Avenue and Superior Street is the “zero” intersection: numbered avenues start from Lake Avenue (1st Avenue East is the first avenue east of Lake Avenue, and 1st Avenue West is the first avenue west of Lake Avenue) and numbered streets start from Superior Street (1st Street is the first street above Superior Street)
• Because of the numerous creek ravines that run through the city, many of Duluth’s streets and avenues come to sudden dead ends where it would be impractical to build bridges.
• Several streets in and around downtown are one-ways from Mesaba Avenue to 24th Avenue East, including Michigan Street (heading east, it ends at 4th Avenue East), 1st Street (heading west), 2nd Street (heading east), and 3rd Street (heading west, beginning one way at 22nd Avenue East). Also, 14th Avenue East is a one-way heading up the hill, and 12th Avenue East heads one way down the hill.
• When driving east on 2nd Street between Mesaba Avenue and 6th Avenue East, drive at a steady 30 mph and you should find the traffic lights lit green the whole stretch.
• Due to its narrow streets, Duluth enforces alternate-side parking year round throughout most of the city. The “parking side” switches each Sunday, and residents must move their cars between 4 P.M. and 8 P.M.
• The steepest hill in Duluth is 5th Avenue West above 5th Street—a 26-percent grade.
• Winter driving on slippery hillside roads can be tricky, particularly if you don’t have a four- or front-wheel drive vehicle. Fortunately, the plow crews move quickly in Duluth. If you do find yourself driving Duluth when the streets are thick with snow or ice, try this: stick to main thoroughfares, especially when you have to go uphill, and approach your destination from above (it’s easier to go down a hill in poor conditions than to go up).
Stunning Views in Duluth
Bardon’s (sometimes spelled “Barton’s”) Peak Forest Park is 2,775 acres of woodland west of Spirit Mountain. Skyline Parkway runs through the park as a dirt road and curves around Bardon’s Peak. A stone wall keeps entranced motorists from plummeting over the side. The road is wide enough to pull off and either sit on the wall or scurry up the peak for a simply amazing look at the St. Louis River valley, Duluth, Superior, and the big lake. Besides the natural beauty, viewers can also see the entire neighborhoods of Morgan Park and Gary-New Duluth, the Oliver Bridge, and the abandoned U.S. Steel plant (as well as the scarred earth it has left behind). From Duluth, take Exit 249 off Highway 35, turn left onto Boundary Avenue and follow it to Skyline Parkway.
Thompson Hill Information Center
Folks entering Duluth from Highway 35 are always impressed with the view as they come over the ridge by Spirit Mountain—especially at night when the lights of Duluth and Superior seem to merge into one great city. That ridge is known as Thompson Hill, and it is home to one of the most scenic wayside rests anywhere. Its panoramic view can be enjoyed by the naked eye or through one of the center’s view-finders. Large photos in the center itself show islands, points, lakes, and other landmarks in the St. Louis River valley. A stainless steel sculpture by David Von Scheggel titled The Gate, symbolizing Duluth as the gateway to the North Shore and the St. Lawrence Seaway, graces the center’s grounds. From Duluth, take Exit 249 off Highway 35, turn right onto Skyline, and follow the signs.
Some think it was once an active lighthouse; others, a tribute from a grieving husband to his dead wife. Neither story is true. Sixty-foot-high Enger Tower was built in 1939 to honor Bert Enger, a prominent area businessman and Norwegian immigrant who came to this country penniless and made a fortune in furniture and real estate (see page 25 for more about the park). When the tower was finished, Crown Prince Olav of Norway visited Duluth to dedicate it. Since then, it has provided visitors with a great look at Duluth’s harbor. Many people climb the tower, which stands 500 feet above the lake, during the day, but the great scenic advantage of the tower is that it’s one of the few places on the Duluth hillside from which you can see the sunset. A gazebo in the park east of the tower makes a great place to watch the sun rise over Lake Superior. The tower is located off Skyline Parkway between Enger Park Golf Course and Twin Ponds.
Central High School Parking Lot
When the Duluth School Board decided to close downtown’s historic Central High School (see page 77) and build its replacement up over the hill, little did they know they’d be creating a scenic overlook. Though not as architecturally impressive as its brownstone predecessor, the new school is perched high above the city, and its lower parking lot provides a stunning view. Minnesota Point juts out almost directly below the parking lot, making it a great spot to watch ship traffic come and go. The high school is located at 800 East Central Entrance. To get there, take Central Entrance to Pecan Street (the first lights past the junction of 6th Street, Mesaba Avenue, and Central Entrance), turn left, and follow the road to the high school. Time it right: it’s hard to find a parking spot during school hours.
The “Coppertop Church”
It’s almost a trend: abandon the old brownstone building near downtown and build something modern on top of the hill, turning your parking lot into a scenic overlook. Before school officials did it with Central High School in 1971, the good folks at First United Methodist moved up the hill in 1966. They tore down their towering church at 215 North Third Avenue West (see page 259) and built a more modern but no less impressive structure at the intersection of Skyline Parkway, Central Entrance, and Mesaba Avenue. The church’s roof is made of copper, which has tarnished green over the years. Most Duluthians refer to it as the “Coppertop Church.” First United Methodist is located at 230 East Skyline Parkway, just east of where Mesaba Avenue and Central Entrance intersect (it has a big green roof, so you can’t miss it).
Mexico Lindo Deck
Housed inside Fitger’s Brewery Complex, Mexico Lindo has something going for it most Duluth restaurants don’t offer: two great decks just yards from shore. The main deck, accessible from the restaurant’s bar, juts out from the top floor of the old brewery and offers the perfect place to watch the Wednesday night sailing regatta. The lower deck, made of iron, rises from the Lakewalk and stretches over the rails of the North Shore Scenic Railroad, with stairs providing a way for folks to get from the brewery to the shore (or vice versa). 600 East Superior Street.
Golf for the View
Golfers unwilling to shell out big bucks for an afternoon of self-torture will find two great public courses in Duluth. These aren’t the worn-down and overcrowded courses you’re likely to encounter in larger cities. In fact, in 1998 Golf Digest ranked Duluth #1 of 309 major cities based on access to good, affordable public and municipal golf. Lester Park and Enger Park both offer 27 holes punctuated by great looks at Lake Superior (you’ll see more of the harbor at Enger, more of the lake at Lester). Remember, the greens always break toward the lake (well, almost always). For directions and tee times, call (218) 525-0828 (Lester Park) or (218) 723-3451 (Enger Park).
The centerpiece of the Bagley Nature Center behind UMD, Rock Hill includes an observation deck that looks out over the UMD campus and Lake Superior and also offers a view of hardwood forest to the north—a particularly fine spot for watching the fall colors. The nature center is located northwest of UMD, off Buffalo Street. Park free in the lot during the summer and at meters during the academic year.
Park Point Beach: A View of Duluth
The “overlook” a look at Duluth from next to the lake. Cross the Lift Bridge, drive a couple blocks, and pull into the parking area adjacent to the Tot Lot (a small playground; go straight when the road curves right). Walk toward the end of the Point for as long as you like. When you’ve had enough, turn back and head toward Duluth, but pause and take a good look at the buildings, homes, and trees that bloom from the city’s hillsides. Makes you want to call it home. (Bring the kids and the dogs, but clean up after both.) The beach also makes a wonderful place to watch the sunrise.
North Shore Views
Split Rock Lookout Station
At about Milepost 44 on Highway 61 (just past Gooseberry Falls State Park), you’ll encounter the abandoned site of a commercial enterprise. It contains the charred remains of a building and the anchor from the S.S. Medeira, a ship that wrecked nearby in 1908. The area also has an abandoned “lookout” station with stairs you can climb for a view of the lake and Split Rock Lighthouse up the shore. NOTE: This is not a state facility, and you may be trespassing (although no signs are posted) so try this at your own risk! Next door you will find an official wayside, with a picnic table and trails leading toward the lake. The view’s not as good, but it’s a lot safer.
Palisade Head & Shovel Point
Palisade Head stands 320 feet above the waters of Lake Superior, and you don’t even have to get out of the car to enjoy a look. Shovel Point—formerly known as “Little Palisade”—is just down the road at Tettegouche State Park. (See page 43 for more information on Palisade Head and Shovel Point.)
The Cutface Wayside is located at Highway 61’s Milepost 104 on your way to Grand Marais. From the wayside’s vantage point you can see Good Harbor Bay, Seagull Bay, and even Five-Mile Rock past Grand Marais. A marker at the site is dedicated in honor of S. Rex Green, an engineer who helped establish Highway 61 “for the public’s full enjoyment of the glories of forests, streams, and lakes.” After taking in the view, get back in the car and head toward Good Harbor Bay. At the mouth of Cutface Creek is a lakeshore wayside, where you can park and picnic and look for thompsonite, a semiprecious rock made of concentrically banded green, white, and pink stone. Outside of the privately owned Thompsonite Beach Museum and Gift Shop down the road (and spots in Australia and Scotland), the rock is found nowhere else in the world.
Mount Josephine Wayside & Overlooks
Mount Josephine is found just past Grand Portage and has three separate waysides on both the lake and inland sides of Highway 61 between Mileposts 146 and 148. At Milepost 146 on the inland side, the winding Poplar Creek Road leads up to the Mount Josephine Wayside, a rest stop with bathrooms, picnic facilities, and a dog-walking area. It also has a few small trails and a great view of the lake and Wauswaugoning Bay. Up the road from the wayside on the lake side of Highway 61 is a much closer view of the lake and the Susie Islands. You can also get a close look at the exposed stone of Mount Josephine where the highway cuts a path through its side. Another stunning view of the lake is provided by an additional lakeside overlook at Milepost 148.
Obscure Minnesota Laws
Not many of these laws are still on the books, but we want you to be prepared. Remember, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
• A person may not cross state lines with a duck atop his or her head. (Also, citizens may not enter Wisconsin with chickens on their heads.)
• It is illegal to sleep naked.
• All men driving motorcycles must wear shirts. (The law does not mention whether women must wear shirts.)
• It is unlawful to tease or torment skunks or polecats. In Duluth…
• All bathtubs must have feet.
• Dogs may not nap in barber shops or beauty salons. The law also makes it illegal to let a dog, horse, or any other animal sleep in a bakery. Further up the map…
• If you visit Hibbing, keep close tabs on your cat, for “If any cat is found running at large, or is found in any street, alley, or public place, it shall be the duty of any policeman or other officer of the city to kill such cat.”
• If you travel to International Falls, keep in mind that cats are not allowed to chase dogs up telephone poles.
• And if you stop by Virginia, remember that you’re not allowed to park your elephant on Main Street.
Obscure Wisconsin Laws
When visiting the Dairy State, keep a close watch on your activities surrounding dairy and faux-dairy products, for in Wisconsin…
• At one time, margarine was illegal.
• Butter substitutes are not allowed to be served in state prisons.
• All yellow butter substitutes were banned after people began smuggling them in from Illinois.
• It was once illegal to serve apple pie in public restaurants without cheese.
• While all cheese making requires a cheese maker’s license, making Limburger cheese requires a master cheese maker’s license. Furthermore…
• You must manually flush all urinals in a building.
• Citizens may not murder their enemies.
• It was once illegal to kiss on a train.
• It was once illegal to cut a woman’s hair. And to clear things up…
• “…Whenever two trains meet at an intersection of said tracks, neither shall proceed until the other has.”