Minnesota: Lake County

Going northeast from Duluth, Minnesota State Highway 61 follows the shore of Lake Superior to Lake County (pop. 10,866).

Split Rock Lighthouse (1909)

Lake County extends north from Lake Superior to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the Canadian border.

Lake County has 911 lakes, many of them unnamed.

The county seat is Two Harbors (pop. 3,745). The 3M Company, now headquartered in St. Paul, started in Two Harbors in 1902 as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company. Two Harbors now has a 3M museum.

Invented by 3M employees

The Two Rivers Depot Museum, in the historic Duluth and Iron Range Depot (1907), has exhibits on Lake County’s three biggest industries: iron mining, timber, and commercial fishing.

Former headquarters of the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad

The tugboat Edna G is also on display in Two Harbors. It was the last coal-fired, steam-powered tugboat on the Great Lakes when it retired in 1981.

In service from 1896 to 1981

Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake, has had about 350 shipwrecks over the years – the largest of which was the Edmund Fitzgerald (fully loaded for Cleveland) in 1975.

Young Gordon Lightfoot (a Canadian!)

In recent years, most of the lighthouses (to aid ships’ navigation) on Lake Superior have closed, but the Two Harbors Lighthouse (1892) is still operating. The Lake County Historical Society has a museum inside.

It’s also a bed and breakfast.

Farther up the coast are several state parks, including Gooseberry Falls and Tettegouche.

High Falls, Baptism River, Tettegouche State Park

The nearby town of Silver Bay (pop. 1,887) was constructed in 1951-55 as a company town for the Reserve Mining Company, which built a 47-mile railroad line from its taconite mine in Babbitt (in the Iron Range)  to its processing plant in Silver Bay.

Taconite Capital of the World


3 comments on “Minnesota: Lake County

  1. Carolyn Ocheltree says:

    Living in the thirsty San Joaquin Valley of California, it is hard to believe that ANY lake, no matter how insignificant, could go unnamed!

  2. Mary Schlick says:

    Stopped to eat our lunch on a beach along that stretch, husband went off to take some pictures and a woman sat down beside me who turned out to be the custodian of a tiny Minnesota country cemetery where many of my relatives lie in peace.

  3. John Dodds says:

    I had to look up what taconite was. And who Gordon Lightfoot was. Just kidding.

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