history north shore mn

north shore historic sites

People have been heading up the shore for more than 12,000 years. When they begin writing back home about it, more folks were enticed to come explore. One of the first Europeans to mention his travels was Etienne Brule, who is reputed to have noted and named Lake Superior in 1623. He chose the name because the translation of the Anishinaabe name for the lake, Kitchigummi, converts to Great Water, and because the lake is the largest and highest of the five lake tributary to the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Included here are Historical centers and museums followed by a list of historic sites.

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split rock lighthouse lr
mile 46.0

The horrific shipwrecks of November 1905 fuel the demand for a lighthouse along Superior's not sure. The amazing construction process was completed in 1910 and the light at split rock shown until 1968. The history centers superb displays, exhibit, and video presentation showcase the evolution of the lighthouse.

The visitor center includes a museum store with mementos, Split Rock memorabilia and hand-picked gift items.

Note - the Lighthouse is owned and operated by the MN Historical Society which offers three tour options:

Grounds Pass :: self-guided tour to visitor center and historic grounds
General Admission :: self-guided tour of Visitor center, historic grounds and all buildings [lighthouse, fog-signal building, oil house and light-keeper's home
Keeper's Tour :: Guided tour of historic grounds and lighthouse; 9am daily in the summer and 5pm as available

Attend the annual Edmund Fitzgerald Commemorative Beacon Lighting every November 10th

3713 Split Rock Lighthouse Road | Two Harbors
mile 54.6 + 0.1 miles

Open seasonally; a small collection of local artifacts and exhibits; acts as the Silver Bay Visitor Center, too. Hours Memorial Day to Labor Day :: 10am-4pm daily Labor Day to October 15 :: Friday- - Sunday, 10am-4pm

80 Outer Drive | Silver Bay
mile 65.3 + 4.6
Orchard, gardens, hiking trail, picnic tables, museum, one-room schoolhouse, sauna, original homestead, and Visitor Center with gifts. events include guided tours mid-May through September and the Annual Finnish Tori Marketplace and Music, the second weekend in August.
5653 Little Marais Road | Finland
218- 353-7380
mile 78.9

The building, with its distinguishing Tudor-style architecture, was originally built in 1929. Over time it has become a landmark, known by both tourists and local residents alike, as the heart of Schroeder. Now home of the Schroeder Area Historical Society, the Center houses a collection of oral histories, photographs and memorabilia.

Displays of fine art and craftwork by several local and regional artists can be enjoyed and purchased at the Cross River Heritage Center.
7932 West Highway 61 | Schroeder
mile 82.9
The North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum welcomes tour groups, the culturally curious traveler, families and children of all ages and even the virtual visitor from across the globe. If you're on Lake Superior's North Shore, you don't want to miss out on the experience of the unique maritime heritage engrained in the landscape and people who call this country home. Summer Hours (mid-May to mid-October) Closed Sunday and Monday Tuesday - Thursday :: 9am - 3pm Friday & Saturday :: 9am - 5pm Winter Hours (mid-October to mid-May) Friday & Saturday :: 10am - 5pm $3.00 Adult and $1.00 Children 6-16, under 6 free
7136 Highway 61 | Tofte
mile 109.5 + 0.1 miles
The nonprofit Art Gallery features local, regional, and national artists in revolving exhibits, as well as featuring a permanent collection of original art by Anna Johnson, an early 1900s artist.
115 W Wisconsin Street | Grand Marais
gunflint mile 53.8 + 0.2 miles from Gunflint Trail
Housed in the historic Chik-Wauk Lodge on beautiful Saganaga Lake, Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center presents the area's cultural and natural history through interpretive and interactive exhibits. Learn about the Gunflint Trail's prehistoric beginnings and people who helped shape today’s unique, rural community, including Native Americans, Voyageurs, miners, loggers, resort owners and current residents.
28 Moose Pond Drive | Grand Marais
mile 144.8 + 0.9 miles
Learn Aniishinaabe art, culture and history. Directions: from Highway 61 MM 143.3 turn right onto Mile Creek Rd, and at the first cross street, turn left and continue 0.7 miles on Mile Creek Rd.
170 Mile Creek Road | Grand Portage
golden eagle lodge gunflinttrail summer sq
Historic sites along the north shore

Listed from the southwest [Duluth] end of shore, to the northeast.

Scenic 61

  • Scenic 61 Drive, follows the path of the original 1929 North Shore road
  • 1856 Buchanan Wayside, site of the 1st north shore post office and an early community on Scenic 61

Two Harbors

  • 1907 Duluth & Iron Range Railroad Depot, now a museum on the waterfront
  • 1883 Ore Dock #1, the ore dock closest to show on the waterfront
  • 1883 3 Spot train & Mallet Engine, on the waterfront
  • 1892 Two Harbors Light Station, includes a museum and B&B, on the waterfront
  • 1896 Edna G. tug, was in service until1981,on the waterfront
  • 1896 Sunken ship Samuel P. Ely, [ok, not the easiest to see, but interesting] in Lake Superior near the western breakwall
  • 1930s R.J. Houle Visitors Center, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps [CCC] as a fire station on Cloquet Lake, now on the northeast edge of town on Highway 61


  • Virgin Pine and Cedar at Encampment Forest, on Hwy 61 northeast of Two Harbors [drive by only, this is all private property]
  • 1930s CCC Buildings at Gooseberry Falls State Park, take the self-guided tour

Split Rock / Beaver Bay

  • 1900s Pilings at the mouth of the Split Rock River, from the Merrill & Ring Lumber Company’s railway
  • Split Rock Lighthouse, need I say more?
  • Beaver Bay Cemetery, final resting spot of some of the original settlers of beaver Bay, the oldest [1856] community along the shore
  • Grave of Chief John Beargrease, who ran the mail up and down the shore via dogsled [the Beargrease Sled Dog Race is named after him]

Silver Bay / Little Marais / Finland

  • 1910 Tettegouche Camp on Mic Mac Lake, walk-in/ski-in , bike-in site within the state park; you can rent these cabins, too!
  • Silver Bay, the youngest [1956] community on the shore
  • Finland [MN} Heritage Site, set on the 1890 John ‘Pine’ homestead, includes a Fenstad log cabin, a log sauna, and the original Park Hill school

Schroeder / Tofte

  • Father Baraga’s Cross, the symbolic granite cross replaces the wooden one Father Baraga erected in gratitude of his harrowing 1846 trans-Superior voyage
  • The old Stickney Inn, a 1920s Tudor landmark that has also housed a boarding house, restaurant, general store, post office, gas station and meat market


  • Lutsen Resort, established in the 1880s, the main lodge was built in the 1940s

Grand Marais

  • 1880s Breakwall & Lighthouse
  • St Francis Xavier Catholic / Chippewa Church
  • 1896 Lighthouse Keeper’s Residence, now home of the Cook County Historical Society
  • 1930s tug, Neegee, built in Grand Marais and used until the 1950s, it allowed commercial fishermen to venture further out into the lake
  • 1896 Maple Hill Church, picturesque Swedish-style church [pictured at the top of the page]

Northeast to Grand Portage

  • Five Mile Rock, used a distance marker by early travelers
  • Naniboujou Lodge, 1929 lodge with famous Cree-inspired painting in the 80-foot dining hall and domed ceiling
  • Sunken ship America, the bow is in a few feet of water in the North Gap; you can view the ship if you ride the Wenonah out to Isle Royale
  • Archaeological excavations at modern-day Grand Portage National Monument, and the historic collections within the center
cove point relax square
surfside sq