We rolled into Duluth for dinner. After a day of rushing to make a bunch of stops before leaving Minnesota, we were ready to relax and enjoy a meal in this historic city along Lake Superior.
Early Duluth was a fur trading outpost loosely named after the French explorer Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut (“DuLuth”). Duluth’s position on the point of Lake Superior made it a strategic trading point. Along with beaver pelts, Duluth became a hub for copper and then timber. The railroad and the canal at Sault Ste. Marie made Duluth the only port with access to both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans in 1855. With mining, timber, and railroads, Duluth boomed. It remains an important shipping port for mining and agricultural products.
We targeted a portion of Duluth that stretches along a sandy spit that splits Lake Superior from Superior Bay and the Duluth Harbor Basin. After dinner, we walked to the entrance to the harbor, flanked by two stunning light houses. We watched the sunset and admired the vistas that were more similar to ocean views than what we see at most lakes. Lake Superior, after all, is the largest of the Great Lakes and the largest freshwater lake in the world (by surface area). The water stretches to the horizon.
It was Tall Ships Week when we rolled into Duluth. Parking rates were inflated, sidewalks were crowded, and we were confused. But as much as the event made our quest for food a bit more complicated, it also meant that we got to enjoy a special visitor to Duluth..who was also inflated.
Towering over the festival was the 61 feet tall, 11 ton “World’s Largest Rubber Duck.” Granted, the 200 pieces of PVC sewn together that form the duck aren’t technically rubber but the effect remains. “Mama Duck,” is one of many inflatable rubber duck sculptures by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman. Hofman’s work has long revolved around creating oversized sculptures of everyday items. Yet, the rubber duck is particularly delightful and whimsical. Since 2007, when Hofman created his first rubber duck sculpture, his bright bobbing works have traveled the world including stops in Amsterdam, Osaka, Sydney, São Paulo, Hong Kong, and Pittsburgh. We happened to wander into Duluth at the same time as“Mama Duck”.