Minnesota North Shore – The In-Between, Day 1

Day1This was a complete impromptu kind of trip.  Being the planner that I am I still put together an itinerary of possibilities.  We did plan to focus on photographing waterfall in the state parks this trip.  We no sooner made the plan and were met with a potential hurdle.  Just outside of Duluth on I35 we were met with a wall of fog.  If you have ever been to Duluth or been there multiple times, there is a good chance you have experienced this king of fog of epic proportions.  Visibility was nil.  All was not lost as Duluth was not the destination, but rather a blip on the trail of this particular journey.  Little did we know the fog would run the whole length of the North Shore and only really clear one morning during our visit.  It made for an interesting trip photographically, that is for sure.

This post and the next few after will recap the details of each day of our trip to the North Shore.  I will highlight where we went, what we did and saw and where we ate and stayed.

Knife River, MN was our first stop.  You couldn’t see much of Lake Superior, but you could smell the fresh air and the lake.  Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse is always on the itinerary.  Cyndie isn’t a fan of smoked fish, but I am.  I got a quick fix in the parking lot and even shared a bit with the seagulls.  Just down the road from Kendall’s on the opposite side of the road are some fantastic old vehicles.  I photograph them every trip.

CovePointThe first day we milled about in Two Harbors a bit and then made our way to Gooseberry Falls State Park.  It was this first day that we noticed the abandoned building, but we didn’t photograph it until we returned later in the trip.  This was a long day filled with many miles and great sites.  Cooter Pottery  and Two Island River/Taconite Harbor were great destinations of the day.  We settled in at Cove Point Lodge for the night.  We had a wonderful dinner just up the road at Cove Point Crossings Bar & Grill.

As you can see by the satellite view there is a nice point to observe the bay and lake from.  There is a trail all the way out to the point.  This was an interesting and picturesque hike after breakfast the next morning  in the fog .

Here are my shots of the Minnesota North Shore – The in between, Day 1


Minnesota North Shore – Two Harbors Waterfront

It was a beautiful morning with a touch of fog rolling about on the lake.  A quick visit to the waterfront and a stroll out along the breakwater was in order.  From this vantage point it was easy to get a better view of the exterior of the abandoned site we just came from.  The left behind Polaroid made you wonder – who was she, where was she from and what did she think about the beautiful place.  The lone fisherman set against the lake and fog was interesting as well.  The stroll was short, but pleasant.  There is only one bad thing about traveling the North Shore of Minnesota; that is realizing it is time to head back home :-/

Minnesota North Shore – Two Harbors Abandoned site

On our way back down the North Shore we stayed in Two Harbors.  Lou’s Fish House has some very tasty morsels for the smoked seafood connoisseur.  The smoked jumbo shrimp were fantastic!

If you are into architectural antiques, be certain to stop by North Shore Architectural Antiques and check out the inventory.  There are lots of interesting old pieces there to browse.  They offer a deconstruction service – three levels in fact.  I see this becoming more and more popular as society is taking to the repurpose, reuse, reclaim and recycle movement.

You can head down to the waterfront and observe a working ore dock by walking out on the break-water.  Also in the immediate vicinity are four locations operated by the Lake County Historical Society:  Two Harbors Lighthouse, The Depot Museum, Edna G. Tugboat and 3M Museum.

This is a great town to spend some time in.

Two Harbors AbandonedThe Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway (DM&IR) is a railroad operating in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin that hauls iron ore and later taconite to the Great Lakes ports of Duluth and Two Harbors, Minnesota. Control of the railway was acquired on May 10, 2004, by the Canadian National Railway when it purchased the assets of Great Lakes Transportation.


150px-Logo_of_the_Duluth,_Missabe_and_Iron_Range_RailwayThe Duluth, Messabe and Iron Range Railroad began in Two Harbors with a 6-stall wooden roundhouse, but it didn’t take long for the railroad to expand. By 1930, a machine shop, boiler shop, car shop, boiler house, storehouse, foundry, engine room and a 50-stall brick roundhouse blanketed the 30 acres of DM&IR’s lakefront property. 109 locomotives were maintained by the shop, half of which were overhauled annually, while 30 or so received light repair. The roundhouse and machine shop ran 24 hours, maintaining the fleet for both a long ore season and abusive timber season, in addition to limited passenger service.

Out of the 30 buildings that comprised the historic shops, 8 still exist today, although the roofs of many are failing catastrophically. Historic roundhouses and locomotive shops all over the Midwest have been destroyed, but these are still preservable, in spite of the damage. With a little social-historical consciousness and the desire to save those reminders of bygone days that mark the American timeline.


This site was absolutely fantastic!  I must say that it is my all-time favorite abandoned site to date that I have had the privilege to shoot.  The lighting inside was amazing and the graffiti outstanding.  I shot this location with my trusty Nikon D60 coupled with the Tamron 18-270mm @ 7.1 on auto ISO.  This is the camera that is by my side at all times.  You’ll notice the grain in the photos.  I think it adds character to the images.  I was going to process this location all in B&W, but the colorful graffiti, moss and other aspects of the building dictated otherwise. On some level I wish I would have spent more time and used a different camera, lens and tripod.  Different gear and more time would have allowed for a more complete exploration of the light and angles of this relic and captured some rock-solid exposures.  I think some really amazing HDR photography could be produced here.

Minnesota North Shore – Cooter Pottery

DSC_4502As we traveled along the North Shore on our way to Gooseberry Falls State Park we stumbled upon an interesting destination.  Cooter Pottery is located a few miles northeast of Two Harbors, MN; the turn is just past Betty’s Pies – look for their sign.  On the sort 3 mile trip off of the beaten path you will drive right by the Northern Rail Traincar Inn on your way to Cooter Pottery.  The rail cars appeared plenty cozy.  We may have to stay there some time.

Dick Cooter

My pots are fired in a 125 cu. ft. wood-burning kiln inspired by traditional Korean kilns.  The kiln much be stoked with wood every 10 minutes for 36 hours until 2400 degrees Fahrenheit is reached.  Pots emerge from this river of fire with a richness of surface that cannot be duplicated by more modern means.

The pots are sturdy, simple and reflect the processes of making them.  I intend my pots be used for storage, serving and preparation of food, display of flowers, etc.  I hope they bring pleasure and joy to the rituals of daily life.  They are free of toxic materials and are dishwasher and microwave safe.

I follow the tradition in which making a pot is a collaboration among clay, fire, potter and user.  The potter seeks the tension among them so that each element has its place and none dominates for too long.

Dick Cooter’s studio is open daily 10-5 year round.  The next time you are in the area stop by and see his pottery.

Dick Cooter Pottery | 2046 Fors Rd., Two Harbors, MN 55616 | 218-834-5242

Here are my photos of my recent visit to Cooter Pottery.