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A Lake Cruise

A beautiful day to see the rugged shoreline.

overcast 66 °F

(Wed, Aug 16th) The decision to forego the lake cruise was a good one for Tuesday was overcast and hazy. A better day for road cruising in my little Ford Focus. Wednesday the sun came out and the day was beautiful. The cruise departure was scheduled for 1:00 pm in Silver Bay, about 20 miles north of Two Harbors where the MH site is. In the morning a visit to the Two Harbors Lighthouse overlooking the busy harbor was delightful. The lighthouse guides these giant ships into the massive ore docks for loading the taconite pellets used in steel production. The ships are loaded from an 80' high X 1,350' long trestle bridge where railroad hopper cars deposit the pellets into storage pockets. Hopper cars empty the ore through the bottom of the car. The pockets have chutes which when lowered, fill the ship's cargo holds. The 7 hr. loading process consumes 800 railroad cars filled with ore pellets, totaling 55,000 to 60,000 tons. There are two parallel docks allowing 2 ships to be loaded simultaneously. During WWII when demand for steel was at an all-time high the port set a record of handling 60 ships in a 48 hr. period loading 650,000 tons of ore bound for steel mills. Simply amazing!

The afternoon was spent aboard a scenic cruise boat which took us along the rugged coastline for a couple of hours. The southerly course ended at Split Rock Lighthouse, a beautiful and famous outpost built to guide mariners in the treacherous waters of this region. The lake storms had claimed dozens of ships prior to its construction in 1905. A November gale that wrecked nearly 30 ships here prompted Congress to allocate funds to build this navigational aid. Now a State Park with docents to explain its history, we found it to be very interesting. Until the Scenic Highway was built all supplies (provisions) had to be brought to the lighthouse by boat. They then hoisted these supplies over 100' by derick to the clifftop location. Three Lighthouse Keepers and their families lived in separate cottages at the remote site, each working on 8 hr. shifts cleaning the beacon daily along with maintenance of buildings and equipment. Talk about getting to know your neighbors! and learning to like them!
The boat trip ended with a 'cruise-by' of the Silver Bay taconite processing center where the raw ore (described in a previous blog) comes from the mines by rail car, unloaded (70 cars/hr.), is processed, then the pellets are loaded onto these 1,000' ships at their dock. It has its own huge electric generating facility, fired from coal transported from PA, MI, WY by these ships. Once emptied, the ships are filled with taconite for transport to wherever the orders demand. I found it all to be very interesting.

(Thurs. Aug 17th) Today was a rainy day. Two local museums were of interest. One the railroad museum. The other the 3M museum. Railroads were critical in moving iron ore from the vast ranges 45 miles away to the shoreline processing and shipping centers. The museum chronicled the history of the railroads here. Special ore cars had to be designed and built to hold the heavy ore. 150 car trains are common with the record being 682 ore cars. The other museum, called the 3M Museum was a sleeper. In this little town of Two Harbors (Pop. 3,500 today) a company called the Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co. was founded by 5 locally prominent businessmen in 1902. A lawyer, a physician, a meat market proprietor, a railroad president , & an assistant to the president and treasurer of the Duluth, Mesabi, and Northern Railroad. The local discovery of corundum, a mineral second only in hardness to diamond prompted these men to gamble on setting up a mining operation to quarry the mineral. Their first feeble venture was the making of 'sandpaper' abrasive material. It took a dozen years to declare their first dividend. Today, 50 one dollar shares purchased in 1902 would be worth $12.5 million! It all started in a small store-front building on 7th street, Two Harbors, MN. The business was moved to St. Paul where it now has its headquarters. It has grown into a global science company with 46 technology platforms and annual sales of $30 billion and 90,000 employees. It is responsible for 60,000 products, among them Scotch brand tape. An interesting story in an unlikely place. One never knows what one will find while traveling!!

Posted by dixter 15:43 Archived in USA Tagged lake more superior finds

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