Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Duluth Experience - History Tour

For Valentine's Day Myke and I did something a little different this year. We went on a history tour with The Duluth Experience. The Extended Bus Tour includes admission the Glensheen Mansion and the Lake Superior Railroad Museum at Duluth Depot. The four hour tours run from 10-2 pm with water and snacks provided. Our driver, Kyle, and our tour guide, Nick were not only super knowledgeable about Duluth, but were passionate about answering our questions and very accommodating. The tour could be slightly different for everyone that takes because a lot of their commentary is based on the questions that we asked.

While you're in the bus, a Turtletop, which I found adorable, there is a slideshow that goes along with your ride. Nick takes you through the history of Duluth from the settlement here by the Sioux and Chippewa to more recent years where it was a city that once boasted the most millionaires per capita of any city in the world. Set on Lake Superior, Duluth is the world's largest inland port with it's biggest exports being grain shipping, lumber, and iron ore. It's 27 miles long and only 4 miles wide. The older buildings are typically made from two different kinds of volcanic rock - native red sand stone and basalt.

The Glensheen Mansion tour is included in your day. The bus dropped us off in the parking lot and Nick escorted our group inside. The tour is about an hour long, taking you through the rooms of the 27,000 square foot house that only took three years to build. The floors and rooms are all reinforced with steel and concrete to protect against fires and earthquakes, which Mrs Clara Congdon had been familiar with living in San Francisco, CA. The man of the house, Chester Congdon, only resided in the homestead for about eight years before he passed. After Chester died in 1916, Clara and Elisabeth, one of their daughters, continued to live at Glensheen. Elisabeth adopted two daughters, Marjorie and Jennifer, and raised them here. Elisabeth was the last family member to live at Glensheen. She died in 1977. So for 69 years, from 1908 to 1977, Glensheen was a family home.
After the tour, Nick met us downstairs in the home and walked us back out to the bus. We continued our drive around Duluth, taking the Skyline Parkway Scenic Byway so we could see the whole city from above. We learned about UMD, Leif Erickson Park, mansions that have been turned into B&B's, and of course, even more. We headed back downtown and made a stop at the Depot. Again, Nick accompanied us inside to get our tickets and then we explored the museum. We spent about an hour in the museum which had an array of train cars you could actually go inside. They also had displays about the history of trains in Duluth and the passengers on them.
Nick met us inside after our hour was up and we drove a little more around Downtown, passing by America's only fresh-water aquarium, the iconic Aerial Lift Bridge, and the William A. Irvin ship. We wrapped up the tour ending at the DeWitt-Seitz Building in Canal Park where we had started.

The tour was a great overview of Duluth history. This city has such a rich legacy and many historic buildings. I would definitely recommend this tour to any transplant or established resident of the city, guests of those people, or tourists who have come to check out what Duluth has to offer. The Duluth Experience also has a variety of adventure tours, brewery tours, and in October, a dark history tour. They really can fulfill anyone's needs no matter the season.You can see more of our fun day in my vlog below.

Until Next Time,
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