Howling good time

The north and south jetty walls extend about 1000’ into cold, deep freshwater lighthouses at each end guide ships. A sea going freighter lay anchored off shore one mile waiting for whatever such a vessel waits for, motor boats and yachts meander into open waters. The north wall seems to be the most popular with tourists from nearby hotels mixing with

Canal Park Entry looking out into Gitchee Gumee
Canal Park Entry looking out into Gitchee Gumee

locals along the waterfront; in the foreground a mock up of a tugboat goes unnoticed. What am I talking about well Canal Park in Duluth, Minnesota on Lake Superior of course what else, eh? Duluth shares the southwest corner of Lake Superior with the city of Superior, Wisconsin, is a shipping port for the iron ore industry, has been part of fur trading, and today draws many a tourist from far and wide.

Now, you are probably wondering, or not, Jim you are in Washington State how the heck can you possibly know what is going on at Canal Park, Minnesota? Well, do you recall the fireplace video people are addicted to watching during the holidays? The other day I was homesick searching that webby thing looking for something from the home state of Michigan as the roots needed watering, when I came across a web (real time) camera at Canal Park, Duluth Minnesota. Canal Park was once dotted with warehouses from the mining and farming days and fell into disrepair so in 1980 Duluth, in order to reverse economic decline, rebuilt this area and it now houses restaurants, bars, casinos, and “The Lakewalk” a foot and bike path that covers a few miles along the waterfront of Duluth. I first used web cameras after a trip to Banff, Alberta, Canada to hold the magic of vacation eventually timing out until this past weekend. Instantly, I am hooked watching people.

Men, women, children, families, retirees, tourists, and locals point, wave arms, walk, and pedal up and down the jetty. Orange definitely is the new black as people sport this bright color on shirts, caps, and shoes making them easy to follow. Some head straight to the concrete jetty wall look down, then to the left, then to the right almost as if expecting something completely different. There are two cameras mounted on the nearby Lake Superior Maritime Museum one looks down the jetty to the northeast out over cold, beautiful Lake Superior. The second camera, just behind the first, focuses on the

The Aerial Lift Bridge with span lowered.
The Aerial Lift Bridge with span lowered.

promenade along the canal with the famous Aerial Lift Bridge (which steals the show) but because of the close proximity a wide angel lens is used slightly distorting the view. Aaaa the Aerial Lift Bridge, I have viewed many a photograph of this Duluth icon built in 1905. Did you know that in it’s early life there was no roadway (cars had not caught on) across Superior Bay instead, a gondola suspended from the top provided the connection between Minnesota Point and Canal Park ferrying up to 350 people and/or 60 tons of cargo, streetcars, wagons, automobiles . Amazing! In the late 1920’s a roadway spanning 390’ was installed do to the spread of some gasoline guzzling invention that replaced the gondola and can be lifted to a full height of 135’

The Aerial Lift Bridge with gondola circa 1905
The Aerial Lift Bridge with gondola circa 1905

accommodating both lake and saltwater freighters and is the same bridge admired today.

Unexpectedly, and to my delight, the freshwater freighter American Spirit comes into view first, a speck on the horizon then slowly it gets bigger, bigger, bigger until it passes into the jetty as spectators of all ages pack the wall from the lighthouse past the lift bridge watching as the 1000’ black and white behemoth slowly moves toward Duluth harbor. Nearing the bridge, the span lifts, the freighters’ captain says, Hello, with one long and two short blasts of the ship horn the bridge operator answers with one long and two short blasts from the bridge horn. The sounds echo across the big lake. I did not take long in figuring how to use both cameras watching the big ship pass from the mouth of the canal, below the bridge, and on into the harbor; the freighter is so large that at one point the stern of the ship was in one camera and the bow in another! Ship watching is an event regardless the time of day or night whether live and in Technicolor, or viewing over the internet fans flocks to watch the big ships perform. In the seven days following this discovery a second unearthing I did find in Martimetraffic.com where ships are tracked via GPS, names are revealed, what port heading to, ETA, photographs, but the Projected Course feature lets you know an approximate time a ship will arrive. Cool, so now the day can be planned around this and not wasted waiting.

Since stumbling onto this site the sun rises and sets over my Lake Superior world sunlight reflecting off individual waves striking the memory early morning fog hovers above the water; adding a bit of mystic is a howl like humming that sounds like a 24/7 NASCAR race and because the museum makes PA announcements that the camera picks up I figured automobile noise from nearby Interstate 35. Not sure I consulted other webcamers who say the sound is just the technology however, if anyone knows otherwise please, let me know. Over the years I have moved from city to city, town to town and to orientate to the new surroundings a trip to the library for background information was done. Even though I don’t live in Duluth I had to know more about the area so off into the depths of the internet I dove and resurfaced with enough knowledge of Canal Park and Duluth to make viewing that much more entertaining. The roots are well watered.

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