Preserving history

Duluth’s Lakewalk is about to get a shot of history — three, to be precise.

The city of Duluth, partnered with the Friends of the Lakewalk, announced three new information kiosks along the Lakewalk, all telling the history of the Duluth Shipping Canal.

The first commemorates the shipwreck of the Mataafa in 1905. It is along the Lakewalk on the approach to the canal. The Mataafa foundered at the canal in a November storm that included gale-force winds, ice and difficult currents. Nine sailors lost their lives as Duluth residents looked on, unable to mount a rescue in the heavy seas.

The two additional kiosks tell the story of the mosaic images of Duluth’s waterfront history. What otherwise would have been simply a dull concrete wall was made into a work of functional art, beautifying the foundation for Interstate 35.

For more information about the kiosks or membership information in the Friends of the Lakewalk organization, contact Andrea Agar at

Duluth gets technical

Well, it only took until 2013, but Duluth’s first Marketing Technology Summit is on the horizon.

The free, half-day conference is 8-11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Inn on Lake Superior, 350 Canal Park Drive. The topics of the morning include customer-relationship management, marketing automation and aligning sales and marketing efforts to help the bottom line.

Summer switch

Canal Park’s Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center is operating on its summer schedule. It’s open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Sundays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays.

Starting Friday, the museum will offer “Pier History Tours,” 30-minute walking tours to introduce visitors to the history of Canal Park. The tours are at 1:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The visitor center and its programs are a free service of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District.

Bridge times change for summer

For the rest of the summer, you’ll be able to set your clock by Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge. Kind of.

The bridge now is operating on its summer schedule, meaning that between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. it will open only on the hour and half-hour for small, private vessels.

The bridge will continue to open as needed for large ships — those greater than 300 gross tons — as well as government vessels, tugboats, pilot boats and vessels in distress. And the bridge will lift on signal for all vessels during the overnight hours. The summer schedule lasts through Sept. 3.

The U.S. Coast Guard approved the lift schedule in 2011 to help reduce traffic congestion during the peak navigation and tourist seasons.

Crossing a new bridge

With the real item behind him, Aerial Lift Bridge Supervisor Ryan Beamer holds one of the miniatures made from worn steel plates removed from the bridge during repairs in this Oct. 16, 2009, file photo. (2009 file, Steve Kuchera / News Tribune)

Ryan Beamer’s job has had a lot of ups and downs in the past 15 years.

Beamer worked his last day on Friday as supervisor of Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge, Zenith City Online reports.

Beamer, who was hired as a bridge operator in 1998, declined an interview request, saying he wants to “fade quietly into the night.” Actually, the Navy veteran is returning to school to finish work toward a nursing degree.

Beamer had been bridge supervisor since 2005. He’ll be replaced by Dave Campbell, recently a master electrician with Sappi Paper Products, according to Zenith City Online.

Sean Penn spotted in Duluth, 83 years ago

The Kansas City Bridge Co. crewman (left) looks an awful lot like Sean Penn (right), who was born in 1960. (Left photo courtesy of Duluth Public Library)

Did you know that Sean Penn was photographed in Duluth sometime between August 1929 and March 1930? Well, it was someone who looked like Sean Penn, not that anybody in Duluth knew who Sean Penn was in 1930.

That’s when a crew from the Kansas City Bridge Co. came to town to convert the transfer bridge over the Duluth ship canal to the Aerial Lift Bridge we still use today. And one of the guys on the crew really did look a lot like Sean Penn. He’s front and center in a photo of the crew posing on the bridge.

The history lovers at Zenith City Online found the photo at the Duluth Public Library and posted it. Check it out there and join the conversation about when and where you would go if you were as good at time-traveling as Sean Penn.

Green Mill now a grown-up

An 18th birthday usually is a big bash for people. Why shouldn’t it be for a business?

Duluth’s Green Mill restaurant in Canal Park turns 18 this month, and owners Doug and Russ Smith figured it was time for a party.

“We’re 18 and all grown up now,” Doug Smith said in a news release.

Instead of buying lotto tickets like other newly minted 18-year-olds, Green Mill will celebrate all day Thursday, starting at 11:30 a.m., inside and outside the restaurant, 340 S. Lake Ave., by serving $1.18 pizza, $1.18 dishes of chicken wings and $1.18 draft beer, as well as half-price items from its new menu.

The family will share photos of the building from 1995 when it was a warehouse and before it was converted to a restaurant, as well as family photos showing what the owners looked like and the fashions they were wearing back in the mid-’90s.

Sustainable Twin Ports early adopters picked

The next early adopters for the annual Sustainable Twin Ports program have been announced.

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Lake Superior College, Canal Park Brewing Company and the University of Wisconsin-Superior make up this year’s picks. The four Twin Ports organizations begin a yearlong, comprehensive and strategic training in sustainability — meaning everything from how and what they buy for supplies to how they handle waste, heating and lighting, water use and more.

This year marks Sustainable Twin Ports’ fifth year of early adopters training, involving 30 organizations.

Spring cleaning at the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center

Get out the rubber gloves, rags and brooms.

The Lake Superior Marine Museum Association is seeking volunteers to help give Duluth’s Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center a spring cleanup.

Volunteers are needed from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. March 13 to dust, update various displays and exhibits, polish brass, make sure electronic equipment is in working order and assist staff with any special projects. Lunch will be provided by Grandma’s Sports Garden.

People interested in volunteering are asked to contact the association at (218) 727-2497 or e-mail

Fire and ice on the menu

For those who like a little adventure with their food and dining experience, here are two very different sensory experiences:

The Blu Ice Bar & Lounge at Grand Superior Lodge — or rather outside of the lodge — is hosting an ice wine festival from 4-7 p.m. Saturday at 2826 E. Highway 61 northeast of Two Harbors. Guests can sample the region’s top ice wines with chef-prepared desserts and aperitifs. Ice wine is a style of dessert wine made from grapes that have been frozen on the vine. Experts will be on hand to answer questions about pairings and picking the best wine.

And if you’re too cold to think about ice wine?

Little Angie’s Cantina, 11 E. Buchanan St., is hosting a Texas-themed meal at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The menu includes an appetizer of shrimp three ways, fresh rattlesnake soup, grapefruit and raspberry salad, smoked beef brisket with green beans, bacon and jicama slaw and blackberry-filled empanada with homemade pineapple and lime ice cream.

Each course will be paired with a beer from the Texas-based Shiner family. The meal is $49.95.