Aerial Lift Bridge: View of Minnesota Point, Harbor, Rice’s Point and St. Louis Bay, Duluth, Minnesota

The aerial lift bridge is owned and operated by the City of Duluth on Congressional permit. The Ship Canal and grounds are under the authority of the Lake Superior Area Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Minnesota Point, also called Park Point, is a well-known Duluth neighborhood that has a population of about 1,500; it is a major year-round recreational area with beaches and an airport. You can see the light edge of the sand beach parallel to the edge of the photograph. Minnesota Point is located at the western tip of Lake Superior, at the mouth of its largest tributary, the St. Louis River. Minnesota Point, seven miles long and averaging 500 feet wide, is geologically part of a continuous, sandy, bay mouth bar that stretches between Duluth and Superior, Wisconsin. The middle of the bar is submerged, creating the natural entry that separates Minnesota Point on the northwest from Wisconsin Point on the southeast. This bar was formed by two processes: primarily by sands carried from the South Shore and deposited by lake currents, and secondarily by sediment deposited by the St. Louis and Nemadji rivers. There are erosion and flood problems on the two sides of Minnesota Point. Most of the Minnesotas Lake Superior shore consists of rock and red clay. The vast sandy beach of Minnesota Point is not common. Shifts in dunes and breaks in dune line can occur in just a few hours. If a blow hole forms in a dune line, up to 3,000 cubic feet of sand can shift during a single storm. Vegetation can help prevent dune erosion. Dunes are extremely important in controlling wind erosion on Minnesota Point. To protect the dunes, it is essential to control pedestrian traffic and prohibit the use of vehicles. If it is necessary to cross dunes, the use of designated trails with boardwalks or bark mulch can minimize damage.

~ Photo Credit: University of Minnesota Duluth, Kathryn A. Martin Library, Northeast Minnesota Historical Collections

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