The Area Between a Pine Tree and a Drop of Water

The area between Tettegouche State Park and the city of Grand Marais, MN holds much beauty and power is felt through the water that the rivers bring to deposit into Lake Superior.  This post includes two of my favorite Minnesota State Parks in this area: Temperance River State Park and Cascade River State Park. But first, let us stop in Taconite Harbor:

Taconite Harbor

In 1986, the twenty-one families remaining in the harbor were told they would have to relocate by Erie Mining Company (Now LTV Steel Mining Company). The last family left Taconite Harbor in June of 1988. Shortly after the last family left, the mining company filed for bankruptcy.

As we pulled into the boat launch and bay area of what used to be a flourishing community, all we were greeted with was the large ship dock used to load the ships with the product this area was well known for, Taconite Pellets.

Taconite Pellets: The Taconite rock is mined and the iron within is separated out and formed into pellets that are shipped to steel mills to be made into steel.

Taconite Harbor98809-2

Temperance River State Park

The Temperance River is narrow but flows fast with an abundance of force. One look upon the river will explain how the water has carved its way through rock and to see the numerous potholes created by its force along the banks; truly, a force not to be reckoned with. I can still hear the sounds of the river water as it makes its way into the lake. This river has so much power that there is no bar at its mouth- no build up of sand, rocks, or debris before it spills into the lake. The Park is awe-inspiring, we will make a point to stop at this park every chance we get.

Information below taken from the MN DNR website:

The steep-gradient river has cut through the fractured, ancient lava flows of the river bed. Swirling water carried gravel and rocks which wore away the basalt and created large potholes. Over thousands of years, these potholes were dug deeper and wider, eventually connecting and creating the deep, narrow gorge. Nearby, more potholes were left high and dry as the river found its new, lower channel. Carlton Peak, the high knob in the northeastern part of the park, is made of a hard, massive rock called anorthosite. It consists of several huge blocks of this rock, which were carried up from many miles below the surface by the molten basalt lava.

Cascade River State Park

Cascade: “ A mass of something that that falls or hangs in copious or luxuriant quantities.” The Cascade River does just that; water cascades down a steep rocky slope, falling 900 feet in the last 3 miles of its journey to Lake Superior. This park has well groomed trails that will surprise you with every turn. Views produced here by Mother Nature are breathtaking. It is also said that this park has excellent Cross Country Ski Trails; a reason to return in every Minnesota season! We will make a point to stop at this state park to investigate with every return trip to the MN North Shore.

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The Meeting Place: In and around Tettegouche State Park

According to the MN DNR website:

The Landscape

Established in 1979 to preserve an outstanding example of the North Shore Highlands Biocultural Region, the 9,346 acres of Tettegouche State Park contain a unique combination of natural features: rugged, semi-mountainous terrain, one mile of Lake Superior shoreline, six inland lakes, cascading rivers and waterfalls, and an undisturbed northern hardwood forest.

There are a number of hiking trails in the park and located at mile marker 57 off of Highway 61 is Palisade head. We have not spent much time in either area and I would love to be able to spend a few days photographing the surroundings.

dsc_4704On this particular day we were traveling north to our destination, Grand Portage. We stopped at Palisade head to see the views from the 350-foot cliffs that overlook Lake Superior. I was wearing my favorite “hiking shoes” as they are super comfortable and help to stabilize the ankle area. Okay, these hiking shoes are really riding shoes and since the traction on the bottom of the shoes have worn down; they can be somewhat slippery when the ground is wet. We arrived at Palisade head and started hiking around the area to take is some views. The morning was extremely foggy making all surfaces wet and slippery. As we moved closer to the edge of the cliffs, I slipped and fell. I was nowhere near the edge, but close enough to evidently scare the hell out of Dan. He turned to me and marched right back to the car, and I followed. He then handed me shoes with good traction and informed me that we were not leaving until I changed. 🙂 I changed, and we moved on into Tettegouche State Park.

After a while, the fog lifted to reveal the glorious sun and it turned out to be a beautiful day! We walked the park trails and crossed the metal suspension bridge. We were able to see the falls from the top, but unfortunately we did not make it around to the other side where the 60 foot falls can be seen in its entirety. This waterfall is deemed the tallest waterfall completely located in MN… We will be back one day.

Please enjoy some of the images I took from this day. Dan also captured some wonderful images from that day and I have also included them as well.

Images from my husband and partner in crime- Dan Traun.  For more, please visit his site at: Dan Traun Photography

Goosberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse State Park: A Beacon of Light.

Goosberry Falls State Park is known for its amazing waterfalls and spectacular hiking trails. I would highly recommend getting out and exploring this area. The Gooseberry River falls over 1100 feet in 23 miles until it enters Lake Superior. Your choice of hiking trails leading to the Upper, Middle, and Lower falls all have their own surprises and beauty.

To know the history behind this beautiful landscape will explain it all. According to the MN state parks website:

Geology of the area between Goosberry Falls State Park and Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Geologists have determined that about 1.1 billion years ago, the Earth’s crust began to split apart along a great rift zone now covered by Lake Superior. Huge volumes of lava flowed out onto the surface and cooled to form volcanic bedrock, mainly the dark type known as basalt. Several lava flows can be seen at the Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls and south of the Gooseberry River along the Lake Superior shore. The rifting also caused the flows to tilt gently toward the lake. These basalt lava flows, all along the North Shore, are also the birthplaces of Lake Superior agates.

About two million years ago, the Great Ice Age began as periodic glaciers (up to a mile thick) advanced into the region from the north. As they ground across the area, they changed the landscape dramatically, especially by excavating the whole basin now occupied by Lake Superior. About 10,000 years ago the last glacier melted back, allowing the basin to fill with water and starting the erosional process that creates the river gorges and waterfalls. Today, water, wind, and weather continue to shape the North Shore.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

In 1905, a November gale that Lake Superior is famous for claimed the ships Edenborn and the Madiera, among others, within miles of the Split Rock River. The lighthouse and fog signal building were completed in 1909 and remained as a steady beacon of light for ships until 1969. Even after the light was dimmed, the horrifying November gales took the Edmund Fitzgerald and her 29-crew members. The loss of the ship and its crew members are remembered every year on November 10, with a public program and the lighting of the beacon at dusk in remembrance.

Building Split Rock Lighthouse and the buildings on the property presented many obstacles. Hiking the path leading southwest down to Lake Superior will show you a glimpse into this amazing feat. The lake isolated the station, as there was no land access, all supplies and visitors needed to come by boat until 1934 when a road was built from the lighthouse to the Lake Superior International Highway.

Split Rock Lighthouse tram image
In 1915-1916 a much needed elevated tramway was built for delivery of supplies

We enjoyed our time spent hiking and photographing the Split Rock Lighthouse and the grounds of the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. To walk through the grounds and the restored 1920 lighthouse learning about the history of this property is intriguing to say the least. Listen to the life saving calls of the fog signal as heard today and of the 1920; to hear up close and personal was bone chilling.

Fog Signal as heard today:

Fog Signal as heard in the 1920’s

Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse will forever be, in my mind, a highly recommended stop if ever in the area.

Minnesota North Shore, Exploration of Two Harbors

After our walk around Cove Point Lodge, we headed back into Two Harbors, MN to take in some city scenery.  On our way, we noticed a sign alongside the road for “Cooter Pottery”.  Dan quickly took the sharp left onto the road heading us in that direction.  Off the beaten path and down a dirt driveway, we came to a creative hotspot that Dick and Debbie Cooter have built.  The kiln and pottery showcased here was absolutely amazing and the colors that Debbie used for her rug weaving was spectacular.  Walking into the showroom was to say the least; inspiring. A stop highly recommended!

A quote taken from Dick Cooter from his website.  To view the website and gallery click on the following link Cooter Pottery.

“My pots are fired in a 125 cu ft wood burning kiln inspired by traditional Korean kilns.  The pots I make are sturdy, bold, and reflect the processes of making them, simple decoration enhances the rich surface created by long wood fires. “

A quote taken from Debbie Cooter about Cooter Handweaving:

“I was introduced to rug weaving 27 years ago as a folk art.  The tradition using recycled clothing to weave and household items appealed to both my creative and thrifty nature.”

After spending some time photographing the Cooter Pottery grounds, we headed into Two Harbors and stopped to photograph the two lighthouses in the bay.  While driving around this quaint little town, our eyes laid upon the signs of abandonment in a large building not far from main street.  What we ran into that day required a trip back later in our vacation.  The buildings that we ran across was the old Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway 30 acre lake front property (DM&IR).  Oh my… My heart skipped a beat as the excitement poured into my body.  This was going to be a good!  We stopped for only a short period of time photographing just a small portion of this property.  The feeling these building put forth is far beyond any words that can spew out of my mouth.  Look for a post on this site in the near future as it has been recently demolished and is no longer standing.  We were extremely lucky to have noticed this gem when we did.

The next leg of our trip will bring you along with us as we tour Split Rock Lighthouse and the grounds of Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.

 

Minnesota North Shore- The Catch of the Day

Typical July weather on the Northern Shores of Minnesota range between 70-85 degrees, but because of Lake Superior, the temperatures can easily drop to a cool 50-60’s. This July trip was well needed; the goal was to cover all 8 State Parks north of Two Harbors, MN.

Dan and I adore the North Shore and are blessed to live so close to this natural wonder. I have fond camping memories of the North Shore as my family went camping there often. We loaded the girls and headed on our way early, our first stop was “grandma’s house”. The girls always enjoy spending some cuddle time with her and even know when we are getting close to grandma’s home. Thanks mom for watching the furry grandkids on our trips!

Normally, you can see Lake Superior when you reach the top of the hill when coming into Duluth on MN Interstate 35. This scenery is absolutely beautiful as the view includes the enormous body of water we call Lake Superior and the grandeur of Duluth. This morning was a little different; as we reached the top of the hill, we could not see the lake or Duluth. A thick blanket of fog covered the city and the lake. We were not disappointed though as fog can add so much feeling to photography.

Our first stop was at Kendall’s Smokehouse where Dan purchased the fresh smoked fish that he was craving since we started out. After the fish was devoured,  we were off to meet up with friends in Two Harbors, MN but of course,  we had to stop and photograph along the way. We had a great time visiting and stayed at Cove Point Lodge.  I would highly recommend a stay in this lodge, the grounds are stunning and the cove offers spectacular views around every corner. We also noticed that the Spring flowers were still in bloom and stopped to smell them every chance we got- Wild Lupine, Daisy’s, Orange Hackweed, just to name a few. The fog this morning was inspiring, little did we know, this fog would stay with us for the majority of the trip adding to the beauty and enriching the colors of the North Shore in July.

What is the next stop you ask? Well, Dan and I will take you on a quick tour of Two Harbors, MN and an exploration of this area’s backroads.