The 1892 Two Harbors Lighthouse (1 Lighthouse Point Dr., 218/834-4898, www.lighthousebb.org, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun. May–Oct., $2.50 adults) is the oldest lighthouse still in operation on the North Shore.
You can climb the tower and see the two 1,000-watt bulbs spinning and tour the assistant keeper’s house, now operated as a bed-and-breakfast by the Lake County Historical Society. Also located on the grounds is a restored pilothouse from the wrecked oreboat Frontenac, with displays about Lake Superior shipwrecks and fishing.
The Lake County Historical Society looks at the rest of the county’s past in the Depot Museum (520 South Ave., 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun. May–Oct., $2.50 adults), with a historical hodgepodge in the 1907 Duluth & Iron Range Railroad depot—the building used in the movie Iron Will. Outside is a pair of steam locomotives, including the 569-ton Mallet, one of the largest train engines ever built.
Docked below the depot is the Edna G. Tugboat (9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun., $2.50 adults), a coal-fed, steam-powered tugboat. Built in 1896, she served Two Harbors for nearly a century, and you can now tour her from the captain’s quarters down to the engine room.
The tiny 3M Museum (201 Waterfront Dr., 12:30–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun. May–Oct., $2.50 adults) commemorates the founding of Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing, which started here in 1902. Initially they tried to mine corundum, a durable mineral used to make grinding wheels, but couldn’t find it where they expected to. After nearly going bankrupt they invented sandpaper, moved to St. Paul, and became one of the globe’s largest corporations. The handful of displays recalls the company’s past and promotes its current products. The collection of historic Scotch Tape containers is about as exciting as it gets.
Paul Van Hoven Park, next to the tug, is the closest you can get to the boats loading taconite at the three massive (1,300 feet long and seven stories high) ore docks; the breakwater by the lighthouse is another good viewing point. Arrival and departure times are posted at the Visitor Center and Depot Museum. The rocky beach at the Flood Bay Wayside, a mile northeast of town, is excellent for agate hunting.
© Tim Bewer from Moon Minnesota, 3rd Edition