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.