Travel Theme: Bridges

The lift bridge in Duluth, Minnesota is a unique feat of engineering that is best demonstrated as one stands to the side watching the center lift for the numerous lake freighters and ocean vessels that stop in the city.  The port of Duluth is the farthest-inland freshwater seaport in North America.

Duluth, Minnesota's Aerial Lift Bridge

The Duluth Public Library has an interesting collection of historical photos along with this brief summary of the Aerial Lift Bridge’s history:

The Aerial Lift Bridge, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Minnesota, was constructed in 1904-1905 as the Aerial Ferry Bridge. Before that time, Park Point was only accessible by ferry boats and, during the winter months, a temporary suspension bridge. The original Aerial Ferry Bridge consisted of much of today’s structure but, instead of the lift span, a suspended car, or gondola, ferried people and vehicles on a one-minute trip across the canal. The gondola could carry the equivalent of a loaded street car, two loaded wagons with teams, and 350 people. The gondola made twelve trips per hour between 5:00 a.m. and midnight and two trips per hour from midnight until morning. The lift span was added in 1929-1930 to handle increased traffic. At that time, the bridge operators moved from running the gondola to working in the control house in the center of the span. The bridge first lifted for a vessel on March 29, 1930. The Aerial Bridge lifts an average of 5,500 times a year, and over forty times a day during the summer months. It is owned and operated by the City of Duluth.

You can enjoy a “live” webcam view of Duluth’s canal and harbor by viewing one of the Duluth Harbor Cam‘s many webcam links.  The Duluth Harbor Cam website also has a rich variety of facts and history about the bridge and the ships that frequent it.

Ship coming through Duluth, Minnesota's canal
Ship coming through Duluth, Minnesota’s canal (2001)

As I looked through my photos, I was struck by how few pictures I had taken of our time spent down by the canal, watching ships arrive into and depart the port.  Perhaps it is one of those sights that as a local that you accept as part of the landscape, and while always getting a thrill as the ship and bridge call back and forth with their loud horns, it is not a sight that you frequently go to see with camera intentionally in hand.  As the years go by, it instead is often a sight you see while in Canal Park for dinner or some other event, coincidentally timed with a ship’s passage.  I do believe that I need to make an “intentional” trip to the lift bridge soon, with camera in hand!

Ciao! ~ Kat

Join in Ailsa’s Weekly Travel Theme at Where’s My Backpack? — “Bridges” is this week’s theme.  Details on how to participate and other responses to this week’s theme can be found here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry

This week’s photo challenge sent me away from my archive of digital photos and down to the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth, Minnesota, which epitomizes geometric shape and design.  The first photo is my formal response to the Weekly Photo Challenge, taking the advice provided by Quintin Lake, who guest hosted the weekly challenge:

Tip: Once you have found a good subject that contains an interesting geometry, try to crop tightly into the subject to make an unexpected composition. Your goal should be to create an abstract composition so the image is more about underlying shapes than a literal representation of the subject matter itself — by doing this you create art rather than a snapshot.

Aerial Lift Bridge ~ Duluth, Minnesota

But, I couldn’t help myself this week and have posted multiple shots to provide context, as well as to share the beauty of Duluth’s evening icon.  Thank you to this week’s photo challenge for helping me to see the bridge with new eyes!

Aerial Lift Bridge ~ Duluth, Minnesota

Aerial Lift Bridge ~ Duluth, Minnesota

Aerial Lift Bridge ~ Duluth, Minnesota

You can participate in the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge by clicking here for more information.  Links to other responses can be found in the comments and pingbacks to the weekly photo challenge post. 

Ciao! ~ Kat

Bentleyville ~ Magical Tour of Lights

Irritation festers as I am faced with Christmas holiday decorations before Halloween is even over.  I make one exception to these premature December holiday signs that I otherwise despise . . . Bentleyville.  In order to bring life to this annual magical tour of lights in Duluth, Minnesota, teams of volunteers must start constructing the scenes and stringing the lights while the leaves are still on the trees.

[photos and video from the 2011 Bentleyville Tour of Lights]

bentleyville 2 2011

Most years, our family has made Bentleyville part of our annual Christmas Eve tradition.  Santa Claus patiently sits at Bentleyville every night through December 23, but on Christmas Eve, he already has taken off for the North Pole to finish loading his sleigh for the night’s ride, leaving Mrs. Claus at Bentleyville to visit with good girls and boys (or those who still hope to redeem themselves before the night is over).

bentleyville 3 2011

This amazing light show is free to the public, with goodwill offering containers scattered throughout the site, and a list of generous sponsors who help make it possible every year.  The original generous sponsor, though, is Nathan Bentley himself – the founder and Bentleyville’s namesake.  The full history of Bentleyville is detailed on its website, starting with a modest display in Nathan Bentley’s residential yard, growing to overtake his property and require shuttle buses and volunteers to direct traffic, and ultimately outgrowing Nathan Bentley’s home, turning into a joyous community event, open and accessible to all.

bentleyville 5 2011

With Duluth’s illuminated Aerial Lift Bridge in the background, thousands of people from all over the state and beyond enjoy Bentleyville’s light and music show, cookies and roasted marshmallows, hot cider and coffee.  That sense of community and holiday feelings of good cheer overwhelm you as you walk through tunnels of light and listen to the excited voices of children (as well as the voices of those adults rediscovering that unique Christmas spirit) – something about Bentleyville lets us all soak up that holiday magic about which songs are written.

bentleyville 7 2011

So, forgive me for adding to the premature Christmas displays, but perhaps you also will agree that Bentleyville may be an exception, as it certainly is exceptional?

bentleyville 2011

If you happen to find reason to swing by Duluth, Minnesota this holiday season, be sure to put a walk through Bentleyville on your list of things to do while visiting.  If you are not able to enjoy this show in person, enjoy this small taste of the magic of Bentleyville from last year’s display:

Bentleyville opens for the 2012 holiday season on November 17th, and will be open daily through December 26th.  Details regarding hours, parking, driving directions and more can be found on Bentleyville’s website.

Ciao! ~ Kat