Thursday, August 8, 2013

Nearby Stuff

Upper Amnicon Falls
There were a number of things to do so close to our campground in South Range that we could fit them in whenever we had an hour or two to spare. First of all, there were two state parks within about 5 miles of our campsite. Amnicon Falls State Park is about 4 miles southeast of where we stayed and we visited one evening as the sun was setting. There are two small waterfalls about 100 yards apart. For reasons that were not clear to us, they had built a covered foot bridge over the lower falls, which made for a nice picture. What covering the bridge did for its functionality I have no idea. It was overcast and cool when we were there. There was a family swimming in the river just below the second falls but we did not find it too tempting. All of the rivers and streams in this area have a brown color to them described as making them look like root beer. There is also a fair amount of foam in the eddies and pools around the falls. This is apparently due to the large amount of decaying plant material in the lakes that feed these streams. The plant pigments leach out into the water and give it a brownish tinge. It is apparently harmless.
Lower Amnicon Falls

Big Manitou Falls
About the same distance southwest from our campground was Pattison State Park. Mark Pattison became a partner in a logging venture at the age of 25. From 1879 until 1882 he worked in the area around the Black River in northern Wisconsin. At that point, he sold his interest in the logging company and use the money to start buying areas rich in iron ore, which made him an extremely wealthy young man.

Flash forward to 1917.  Pattison is rolling in money and hears of a plan to build a dam on the Black River that will put much of the area he explored while in the lumber business underwater including the Big and Little Manitou Falls. He secretly starts buying up all of the land in the area and then in 1918 donates 660 acres to be used as public parkland, blocking the dam project.  Pattison considered this one of the great accomplishments of his life and rightly so. For 17 years the park was a modest public picnic ground where people could enjoy an afternoon and hike down to see the waterfalls. Then, in 1935, along
Wading in the lake
comes Franklin Roosevelt and the Civilian Conservation Corps.  Pattison's heirs had lobbied the federal government to make the park a pet project. For seven years, the CCC re-worked the area. 
They put in sewer and water systems, removed old roadbeds and abutments, planted trees, landscaped and built three miles of foot trails. They also quarried rock and chiseled it into blocks to create the park shelter building, nature center, bathhouse and office building.  One of the most ambitious projects was draining Interfalls Lake, rerouting the river channel and hauling in sand to make a beach. Nearby Amnicon Falls State Park got none of the above (except for a cover on their bridge). So now campers at Amnicon Falls are invited to drive to Pattison if they want to take a hot shower.

I tried out the hauled in sand and went wading in the lake. The temperature was not bad however the root beer color is a little off-putting, so I did not go in any farther than what you see. Now my legs are the color of root beer.

Wisconson Point lighthouse
Wisconsin point is a sand spit that extends out into Lake superior forming part of the water break that creates the Duluth/Superior harbor. You can drive out onto the spit and walk along the beach on the open lake side. It is the easiest place we ever found to dip your toes into Lake Superior. There is also a lighthouse that guides shipping through the opening into the harbor. The road out onto the sandbar starts only about a mile from our campground so we drove out there to kill some time while we were waiting for a dinner reservation one evening. If we had more time, it seemed like a pleasant place to spend an afternoon. There is no opposite shore visible and you can almost convince yourself that you're sitting on an ocean beach in Oregon or Washington.
Vicki dipping her toes in Lake Superior
Another view of the lighthouse
The museum is in a 19th century firehouse.
The other nearby attraction we visited was the Firehouse and Police Museum in Superior. We had intended to go see this when we finished at the train museum earlier in the week, but the Firehouse is only open Thursday through Sunday, so we went back a few days later. It is not very big but has a collection of old fire engines and other artifacts and was good for 20 or 30 min. of browsing and picture taking. No, I did not slide down the pole.

Horse drawn pumper
Firetruck hood ornament

1 comment:

  1. Vicki, I don't blame you a bit for not wading in the root beer pool. Ew. All of the photos are fantastic, and Doc, I really think that you should go back and try out the pole at the firehouse museum :) Glad to see you're having fun!!