Start thinking about Duluth, and odds are one of the first images your mind conjures up is that of the iconic Aerial Lift Bridge. Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge is as essential to Duluth’s skyline as the Empire State Building is to New York City, or the Space Needle to Seattle. Simply put, the bridge is a part of Duluth’s identity.
The Aerial Lift Bridge also has quite a bit of interesting history behind it, too. Come enjoy an afternoon of ship watching with us on the Duluth harbor this summer, and enjoy the spectacular sight of Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge. We have your complete guide for how to enjoy a perfect Duluth Day ahead. But first, you’ll need to do a little advanced planning, and make your reservation at our Duluth Bed and Breakfast for later this summer and even into fall.
History of the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth
Construction began on the Aerial Lift Bridge in 1901 and was completed in 1905. At the time of its construction, this span-drive configured bridge was the first and only of its kind in the country. In the first decades of operation, a cable car or gondola was attached under the top truss of the bridge, which was used to transport passengers, wagons, and even automobiles across the canal. The total journey time took about 1 minute, but as demands grew, it became clear a new design was needed. In 1929, the Gondola was replaced with the elevated roadway you see today.
The roadway that makes up a portion of the Aerial Lift Bridge, Lake Avenue, spans the 386 feet across Duluth’s Ship Canal and connects the city of Duluth to Minnesota Point (aka Park Point). To say utilizing this elevated roadway-style construction of the bridge is rare is an understatement. To date, there are two such bridges in the world. This one, and a similar bridge in Rouen, France.
Throughout its 100+ years in operation, the Aerial Lift Bridge has served as a mainstay in Duluth culture. Today, Duluth’s iconic Aerial Lift Bridge is one of the most photographed landmarks in the state, rivaling only that of Split Rock Lighthouse. As ships pull into Duluth’s harbor, the span of the bridge is raised, standing at an impressive 180 feet of clearance below.
The Aerial Lift Bridge is in operation 24 hours a day. It raises and lowers as needed to allow ships carrying iron ore and cement, sailboats, and tour boats through the canal. On a busy day in the harbor, you can expect the bridge to raise more than 20 times. You can no longer be on the bridge when it raises, but you can be nearby watching this magnificent structure do its work, as boats pull in and out of the harbor.
Ship watching really is a fine tradition in Duluth, and a highly recommended way to enjoy a sunny afternoon in town. When the bells start to ring on the bridge signaling it will soon rise, you’ll see just how many people stop what they’re doing to take in and appreciate the spectacle! If you do plan to get close, just remember that it can be noisy. Both the ships and the Aerial Lift Bridge operators enjoy greetings by horn blast as they pass on through. To locals, it’s a signal that life carries on in this beautifully rugged city, and is a normal and welcomed part of life.
Where to Stay in Duluth
So, now you know you’re coming to Duluth to see this incredible bridge and enjoy the sights and sounds of Duluth’s busy harbor. Now, the question is where to stay in Duluth? For that, there is a simple answer. Stay at the A.G. Thomson House, Duluth’s finest Bed and Breakfast.
The luxurious guest rooms at the A.G Thomson House Bed and Breakfast are hard to beat. We offer 7 guest rooms to choose from, each well-appointed and uniquely decorated with your comfort at the very forefront. Each room offers a king or queen bed, private bathrooms which include a two-person whirlpool in all but one room, fireplaces, luxuriously soft linens, modern amenities, partial lake views, and a sense of place you won’t find in traditional hotel rooms.
Each morning of your stay, you’ll be wakened to the aromas of a full and freshly made breakfast. We are happy to cater to a variety of dietary restrictions, including vegans and vegetarians, so long as we are given advanced notice and have the ability to do so. And, when it’s time to venture beyond our walls, we’re happy to help with tips and recommendations as needed. After all, we’re here to make your experience in Duluth one you’ll never forget.