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Duluth's Towering Bridge and Scenic Lake Superior

Curious about Duluth's iconic Aerial Lift Bridge and its captivating views of Lake Superior?



duluth s iconic bridge view

Discover Duluth's iconic Aerial Lift Bridge, initially built in 1905 as a transporter bridge, redesigned into a vertical lift bridge in 1929 by architect Thomas McGillivray. Spanning 501.9 feet across the Duluth Ship Canal, it can rise up to 135 feet for passing ships. The essential link connecting Canal Park and Park Point, it offers stunning views of Lake Superior and maritime activities. Owned by the city, it primarily caters to vehicular traffic, preserving historic charm while showcasing rare bridge engineering. Unwrap the layers of this historic marvel and experience the blend of engineering prowess and scenic beauty it offers.

Key Takeaways

  • Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth offers panoramic views of Lake Superior.
  • Originally built in 1905, now a vertical lift bridge spanning Duluth Ship Canal.
  • Provides access between Canal Park and Park Point for vehicles.
  • Key attraction with historical significance within Duluth Ship Canal Historic District.
  • Towering structure, up to 135 feet high, adds to the scenic charm of the area.

History and Significance

Explore the rich history and profound significance of Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge, a remarkable structure that has evolved over time to become a symbol of the city's maritime heritage.

Originally constructed in 1905 as a transporter bridge, it was later transformed into a vertical lift bridge in 1929. Designed by architect Thomas McGillivray, the Aerial Lift Bridge spans the Duluth Ship Canal, linking Canal Park and Park Point. This iconic bridge allows seamless automobile movement when lowered and can be raised up to 135 feet to accommodate passing ships.

The current Aerial Lift Bridge, resembling John Low Waddell's original design, was completed in 1930 and remains a prominent attraction in Duluth. Its historical significance lies in the evolution from a ferry bridge to the iconic lift bridge it's today, symbolizing Duluth's rich maritime history and engineering achievements.

The Aerial Lift Bridge stands as a tribute to the city's connection to the waterways and its continuous evolution over the years.

Rehabilitation Activities

community based rehabilitation programs

Rehabilitation activities on Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge have been vital to maintaining its historic character and structural integrity throughout the years. Since 1986, several projects have focused on preserving this iconic structure.

These initiatives have included replacing the operators house, enhancing structural elements, and repairing abutments, deck grating, machinery, and the lighting system. The efforts have been essential in ensuring the continued functionality and preservation of this rare type of bridge engineering within the Duluth Ship Canal Historic District.


Location Details

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You can explore the Aerial Lift Bridge's impressive architecture, offering stunning views of Lake Superior from its towering height.

Additionally, don't miss out on nearby attractions that enhance your visit to this iconic landmark in Duluth.

These location details give a thorough overview of what to expect when experiencing this scenic bridge and its surroundings.

Bridge Architecture Overview

Situated at the entrance of the Duluth Ship Canal, the Aerial Lift Bridge stands as a prominent architectural marvel spanning over Lake Superior. Here are some key architectural details about the vertical lift bridge:

  1. Span: The bridge stretches 501.9 feet across the Duluth Ship Canal, providing an essential link over Lake Superior.
  2. History: Originally constructed in 1905, it underwent a transformation into a vertical lift bridge in 1929, enhancing its functionality for maritime traffic.
  3. Clearance: To accommodate passing vessels, the bridge can lift to a height of 135 feet, allowing smooth navigation through the canal.
  4. Accessibility: While pedestrians can enjoy strolling across the bridge using the sidewalk, access may be restricted when the bridge is raised to facilitate the passage of ships.

The Aerial Lift Bridge's iconic design and strategic location not only make it a vital transportation artery but also a mesmerizing sight for visitors and photographers alike.

Lake Superior Views

With its mesmerizing vistas and strategic positioning, the Aerial Lift Bridge offers unparalleled views of Lake Superior's majestic waters and the bustling maritime activities within the Duluth Ship Canal. Spanning 501.9 feet over the canal to Lake Superior, this iconic bridge serves as a picturesque connection between Canal Park and Park Point in Duluth, Minnesota.

Originally built in 1905 and later converted to a vertical lift bridge in 1929, the Aerial Lift Bridge can lift to allow 135 feet clearance for water traffic passing through.


As the most photographed bridge on the Lake Superior Circle Tour, it provides stunning views of large sea vessels passing through the Duluth Ship Canal. Pedestrians can enjoy a leisurely stroll on the bridge's sidewalk when not in the lifted position to accommodate passing ships.

Enhancing the visitor experience further are the surrounding canal's lighthouses, adding to the scenic charm of the area in St. Louis County.

Nearby Attractions Suggestions

Explore the vibrant array of dining options and shopping experiences that Canal Park in Duluth offers near the iconic Aerial Lift Bridge. While visiting the area, consider these nearby attractions suggestions:

  1. Duluth Ship Canal Lighthouses: Immerse yourself in history and scenic beauty by exploring the charming lighthouses along the Duluth Ship Canal.
  2. Outdoor Adventures: Engage in outdoor activities such as kayak trips on Lake Superior or charter fishing in nearby Knife River, MN, offering a perfect blend of nature and excitement.
  3. Private Boat Cruises: Indulge in a private boat cruise in Knife River, MN, or opt for a more hands-on experience by renting paddleboards for water adventures near the iconic Aerial Lift Bridge.
  4. Unique Shopping: Discover unique stores like Duluth Pack in Canal Park, and treat yourself to local pizza and ice cream while taking in the sights of the Aerial Lift Bridge area.

Bridge Features Overview

bridge features detailed explanation

You'll be captivated by the impressive features of Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge as it stands majestically over the Duluth Ship Canal, connecting the city to Lake Superior. This iconic bridge spans 501.9 feet, offering a historic link between Duluth and the vast waters of Lake Superior.

Originally constructed in 1905, the bridge underwent a significant transformation in 1929 to become a vertical lift bridge, providing a generous clearance of 135 feet for water traffic during the shipping season.

Recognized as one of the most photographed bridges on the Circle Tour, the Aerial Lift Bridge provides a unique vantage point to witness large sea vessels passing through the Duluth Ship Canal. Situated in St. Louis County, Duluth, Minnesota, the bridge also features a pedestrian sidewalk for visitors to stroll along when the bridge is in the lowered position.


For an enhanced experience, exploring Minnesota Point (Park Point) and admiring the surrounding lighthouses along the canal further enriches the charm of this historic landmark.

Key Facts and Figures

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The Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth boasts impressive dimensions and historical significance, making it a standout feature of the city's landscape.

Here are some key facts and figures about this iconic structure:

  1. The Aerial Lift Bridge spans 501.9 feet over the Duluth Ship Canal to Lake Superior.
  2. Originally constructed in 1905, the bridge underwent a transformation into a vertical lift bridge in 1929.
  3. It has the capability to lift, providing 135 feet of clearance for water traffic to safely pass through.
  4. Known as the most photographed bridge on the Circle Tour, the Aerial Lift Bridge offers pedestrians access via its sidewalk, although this is restricted when the bridge is lifted to accommodate passing boats.

Crossing Details

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When crossing the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth, visitors can witness the impressive vertical lift mechanism in action as large vessels pass through the canal. Below is a table summarizing key details about this iconic bridge:

Attribute Description
Location Duluth, Minnesota
Span Length 501.9 feet
Vertical Clearance 135 feet for water traffic
Attraction Most photographed bridge on the Circle Tour
Pedestrian Access Available when the lift is down, offering views of ships passing through Lake Superior

The Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth not only serves as a functional passageway for ships traversing Lake Superior but also offers a unique experience for visitors to witness the bridge in action and enjoy the scenic beauty of the surrounding area. Whether you're fascinated by the engineering marvel of the lift mechanism or captivated by the sight of large vessels gracefully moving through the canal, the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth is a must-visit attraction.

Owner and Use Information

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To understand the ownership and primary use of Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge, it's important to note that the city owns the bridge and primarily utilizes it for vehicular traffic.

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. The Aerial Lift Bridge was originally constructed in 1905 as a transporter bridge before being converted into a vertical lift bridge in 1929.
  2. Spanning 501.9 feet over the Duluth Ship Canal, the bridge serves as a vital link connecting Canal Park and Park Point.
  3. When raised, the bridge offers a clearance of 135 feet to allow large water vessels to pass through the canal smoothly.
  4. This iconic landmark not only facilitates transport but also offers breathtaking views of Lake Superior and the bustling harbor, making it a popular attraction in Duluth.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Does the Duluth Lift Bridge Go Up?

The Duluth Lift Bridge goes up approximately 5,000 times a year, with more frequent lifts during peak shipping season from March to December. Each lifting process takes about a minute, providing ships with a clearance of 135 feet when raised.

You can check the bridge lifting schedule at Canal Park and the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center. Stay informed to witness this impressive feat of engineering in action!


Can You Ride the Duluth Lift Bridge?

You can't ride the Duluth Lift Bridge as it's primarily for vehicles and pedestrians. However, visitors can witness its impressive operation from designated viewing spots.

The bridge lifts to let ships pass through the Duluth Ship Canal and is manually controlled from a control room on the bridge. So, while you can't ride it, you can still enjoy watching this engineering marvel in action.

How Long Is the Bridge From Duluth to Superior?

The bridge from Duluth to Superior spans 501.9 feet over the Duluth Ship Canal to Lake Superior. Originally built in 1905, it was converted to a vertical lift bridge in 1929.

The bridge lifts to provide 135 feet clearance for water traffic. Known as the most photographed bridge on the Circle Tour, pedestrians can access it via the sidewalk, except when it's lifted for water traffic.

Can You Walk Across the Duluth Lift Bridge?

Yes, you can walk across the Duluth Lift Bridge. The pedestrian sidewalk on the bridge allows visitors to enjoy unique views of large sea vessels passing through the Duluth Ship Canal.


The bridge spans over 501.9 feet to Lake Superior, offering stunning vistas of the surrounding area. Pedestrian access is typically available, but keep in mind that it may be closed when the bridge is lifted to allow water traffic to pass through.


To sum up, the towering bridge of Duluth stands as a symbol of strength and connection, overlooking the scenic beauty of Lake Superior.

As you cross the bridge, you can't help but feel like you're soaring above the vast expanse of water, with the gentle breeze brushing against your face.

The combination of architectural grandeur and natural splendor creates a breathtaking experience that's truly unforgettable.

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The Land of 10,000 Lakes Offers Endless Fun

Lose yourself in the endless adventures of Minnesota's Land of 10,000 Lakes, where outdoor enthusiasts find a paradise of activities waiting to be explored.



minnesota s abundant lakes entertain

Explore a plethora of outdoor adventures in Minnesota, where the Land of 10,000 Lakes invites you to engage in a myriad of activities. With over 10,000 lakes, fishing enthusiasts can reel in their catch, while hiking aficionados can discover 59 state forests' numerous trails. In the winter, snowmobile enthusiasts can zip through 17,000 miles of trails. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness awaits for serene canoeing and camping experiences. From scenic hiking trails to winter sports and family-friendly fun, Minnesota offers a treasure trove of experiences for all. Discover your inner adventurer amidst Minnesota's natural wonders.

Key Takeaways

  • Endless fishing, boating, and hiking opportunities on Minnesota's 10,000 lakes.
  • Snowmobile trails and winter sports for cold-weather enthusiasts.
  • Scenic trails, birdwatching, and nature photography options.
  • Family-friendly activities like camping, wildlife spotting, and amusement parks.
  • Diverse winter festivals, skiing, and ice fishing experiences.

Outdoor Adventures in Minnesota

Explore the countless outdoor adventures waiting for you in Minnesota's vast landscapes. The State, known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, offers a myriad of activities to indulge in.

With over 10,000 lakes scattered across the region, fishing enthusiasts will find themselves in paradise, reeling in various species of fish.

If hiking is more your speed, Minnesota boasts numerous hiking trails weaving through its 59 state forests, providing opportunities for exploration and nature immersion.

The interconnected lakes in the State offer a unique experience for those looking to venture out on a boating expedition.

During the winter season, Minnesota transforms into a snowy wonderland, with over 17,000 miles of snowmobile trails for adrenaline junkies to enjoy.


Additionally, the National Park in Minnesota, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, spanning a vast million acres, beckons adventurers for unparalleled canoeing and camping expeditions in pristine natural surroundings.

Minnesota truly caters to all outdoor enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of activities to enjoy throughout the year.

Water Sports and Recreation


Scenic Hiking Trails and Nature

outdoor adventures await you

Amidst Minnesota's abundant natural beauty, the state's over 4,000 miles of hiking trails offer enchanting views of forests, waterfalls, and wildlife. These trails provide a serene escape into nature, perfect for exploring the diverse landscapes Minnesota has to offer.

When hiking in Minnesota, you can expect:

  1. Scenic Views: Experience breathtaking vistas along the Superior Hiking Trail, spanning 310 miles along Lake Superior's North Shore.
  2. Abundant Wildlife: Encounter over 500 bird species and various wildlife while immersing yourself in the state's natural habitats.
  3. Nature Photography: Capture the beauty of Minnesota's landscapes, from lush forests to cascading waterfalls, ideal for photography enthusiasts.
  4. Gooseberry Falls State Park: Explore well-maintained trails at Gooseberry Falls State Park, where the majestic waterfalls create a picturesque setting for a hike.

Minnesota's hiking trails offer not only physical activity but also a chance to appreciate the state's natural wonders and diverse ecosystems. Whether you enjoy birdwatching, photography, or simply being surrounded by nature, Minnesota's trails provide the perfect setting for outdoor exploration.

Winter Activities in Minnesota

winter fun in minnesota

Discover a winter wonderland of activities in Minnesota, with options ranging from skiing and snowboarding to ice fishing and winter festivals. Minnesota offers over 20 areas for skiing and snowboarding, providing ample opportunities for winter sports enthusiasts to experience the thrill of gliding down snowy slopes.

For those who prefer exploring on land, the state boasts 17,000 miles of snowmobile trails, offering a unique way to enjoy the winter scenery. If you're looking to experience the traditional winter pastime of ice fishing, Minnesota's frozen lakes provide the perfect setting for this popular activity.


Don't miss the chance to attend the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, a beloved winter festival featuring intricate ice sculptures and a variety of events for all ages. For a more serene winter experience, head to Minnesota's North Shore along Lake Superior, where you can marvel at stunning winter vistas and partake in outdoor adventures.

Whether you're seeking adrenaline-pumping activities or peaceful winter exploration, Minnesota has something for everyone during the winter season.

Family-Friendly Fun in MN

minnesota s family friendly activities

Discover the multitude of family-friendly fun waiting for you in Minnesota, where a variety of activities cater to all ages and interests.

  1. Enjoy a day out on the water with your family, engaging in boating, fishing, or simply swimming in the pristine lakes of Minnesota.
  2. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature by camping at one of the state parks, where hiking trails and outdoor adventures await enthusiastic explorers.
  3. Minnesota's state parks offer fantastic opportunities for families to bond over campfires, stargazing, and wildlife spotting in peaceful settings.
  4. Take your kids to the many amusement parks, water parks, zoos, and interactive museums scattered across the state for a day packed with laughter and learning.

With its vast array of family-friendly activities spanning from water activities on the lakes to thrilling amusement parks, Minnesota makes sure that every member of the family finds something to enjoy.

Plan your trip today and create unforgettable memories in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes?

Minnesota is known as the 'Land of 10,000 Lakes.' This nickname stems from the state's vast number of lakes, totaling over 11,000. These lakes vary in size and shape, offering a wide range of recreational activities like fishing, boating, and swimming.

They're a significant part of Minnesota's identity, providing stunning natural beauty and economic benefits through tourism, recreation, and supporting diverse ecosystems. Residents and visitors can enjoy the numerous lakes that make Minnesota unique.


What Is the Slogan for the Minnesota Lakes?

The slogan for the Minnesota lakes is 'Land of 10,000 Lakes,' highlighting the state's abundance of natural water bodies.

The state is actually home to over 11,800 lakes larger than 10 acres, covering approximately 2.56 million acres.

These lakes provide ample opportunities for water-based activities and contribute greatly to Minnesota's economy through tourism, fishing, and boating industries.

The variety of lakes in Minnesota caters to different preferences, from serene spots to bustling recreational areas.

Why Does Minnesota Have 10,000 Lakes?

Minnesota boasts over 11,800 lakes due to glacial activity during the Ice Age. These glaciers formed depressions in the land, creating a plethora of lakes.


These bodies of water cover approximately 2.56 million acres, offering abundant opportunities for water-related activities. Red Lake is the largest, spanning 288,000 acres, while Lake Superior is the deepest, plunging to depths over 1,300 feet.

These lakes contribute to Minnesota's natural beauty, recreation options, and diverse ecosystems.

What Country Is Known as the Land of 1000 Lakes?

Finland is known as the 'Land of a Thousand Lakes' due to its abundance of lakes, totaling over 187,000. The Finnish term for this is 'Järvi-Suomi,' translating to 'Lake Finland.'

Lakes cover about 10% of the country's land area. The largest lake, Saimaa, is famous for its seal population.

The Finnish Lakeland region is a popular spot for water activities, fishing, and nature lovers.



To wrap up, Minnesota truly lives up to its reputation as the land of 10,000 lakes, offering endless opportunities for outdoor adventures and family-friendly fun.

As the saying goes, 'a picture is worth a thousand words,' and the picturesque landscapes and diverse activities in Minnesota speak volumes about the state's appeal.

Whether you're into water sports, hiking, or winter activities, Minnesota has something for everyone to enjoy in any season.

So, why wait? Start planning your next adventure in the North Star State today!

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