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Steven Balliette
Duluth, MN USA
With 11 lighthouses from Grand Marais Minnesota to Superior Wisconsin I have many opportunities to activate lighthouses for the Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society  
World List of Lights

The Lighthouse Directory

Seeing The Light

 Boat Nerd

              Lighthouses in and Near Duluth                                      click for: Current Lighthouse and other RadioActivity

The Internet hosts a wide selection of information and photos of lighthouses in Minnesota and around the world.  I have noted some links for each of these lighthouses that you might find interesting reading.  Most sites restrict direct copy/paste of their text on another site so I have not done that here.  Some basic information is public, such as location and construction dates so that is shown here.  Please follow the links provided for more information.  What I have written by each lighthouse are my personal observations and accounts of my activations for the ARLHS. 

USA 499  Point Zero Point
                    Zero Lighthouse
Photo by Steve Balliette
Creative Commons Photo by  ivers

                      499 Point Zero QSL card

Built 1858.  Location: Minnesota Point, Duluth Minnesota on the Western end of Lake Superior. 
Point Zero Lighthouse gets its name from the fact that it was constructed at the location where Lieutenant Henry Bayfield, British Royal Navy began his 1823 survey of Lake Superior.  The town of Bayfield Wisconsin was named for Lt.Bayfield. In 1871 Duluth Minnesota dug it own "Ship Canal" to improve access to their side of the harbor which in turn resulted to improvements to the navigation structures at the Superior Entry.  By 1878 a new lighthouse had been built there, partly from material salvaged from Point Zero and Point Zero became a relic.

    Point Zero LH is located on Minnesota Point in Duluth Minnesota.  One must hike a mile and a half beyond the Sky Harbor Airport, through a beautiful pine forest to get to the light.  I have hiked to it many times, in all seasons usually setting my rig up on the Lake Superior beach unless the wind is too strong, then I carefully find shelter behind a bush inland.  From my beach location I can also observe USA 829, the Superior Entry lighthouse, so I report both of them together from here.  Because of the tall trees around USA 499 there is no other place to observe and activate the light.
     Of particular interest to me is the profuse growth of poison ivy that one finds all around that end of Minnesota Point.  I am carful not to set my rig up in the areas with poison ivy preferring instead to set up on the beach whenever the weather permits. 



USA 829  Superior Entry Superior Entry
Creative commons Photo By pmarkham
Pete Markham,

USCG #15595




Fl G 5s,  H 70'  Range 22 mi

        Superior Entry Lighthouse QSL Card

Built 1878 with modernization in 1913.
    You can see this is a beautiful structure, rounded ends, red roof and round tower.  It is constructed at the end of the breakwater making access a long 1800 foot walk.  I have not yet walked with my rig to the light itself, preferring for now to either set up on the beach or work from my car.  But now with my new end-fed dipole I think I could make some contacts out there with it, so when the weather permits....

    USA 829 replaced the Point Zero lighthouse.  The original lens from 499 now is used in 829.  One can drive to near USA 829 by driving across the Blatnik bridge to Superior Wisconsin, then East on Highway 2 to Moccasin Mike Rd and then out Wisconsin Point to the Superior Entry.  Together, Wisconsin and Minnesota Points comprise a ten mile long sandbar which separates the western end of Lake Superior from St. Louis Bay, the estuary of the St. Louis River.  The Superior Entry is the natural outlet of the river.
   A Google Earth Placemark for the Superior Entry is available  HERE



USA 237  Duluth South Breakwater Outer Duluth Breakwater South
Creative Commons Photo
By pmarkham
Pete Markham

USCG # 15845



F G H 44'  Range17 Mi

Click here for a  Google Earth view of the Canal Park area.   (You need Google Earth installed on your computer.  A free download from Google)

Built 1874

            Located on the Duluth end of Minnesota Point the Duluth Entry to St. Louis Bay was dug in 1872 to provide direct access from Lake Superior to the developing harbor on the Minnesota side of the bay.  Now 1600 feet in length, the “Duluth Ship Canal” is solidly protected by twin breakwaters and is the western terminus of the St. Lawrence Seaway. 

     One of three lighthouses on the Duluth Ship Canal,  and only 2.5 miles from my home it is easy for me to set up in the parking lot of Canal Park to activate all three lighthouses.  In bad weather I will sit in my car, but otherwise I will set my rig up on the beach near the canal, enjoy the scenery, watch the tourists and activate the lights.
    This building used to contain an air horn fog horn but now that has been replaced by a "Peanut Whistle".  A local group called TOOT managed to resurrect the fog horn for a few years, but resident opposition, money and maintenance problems resulted in its removal. 
    From the parking lot one walks over the Aerial Lift Bridge across the canal, then out the breakwater to visit the building.  The inside is not open to the public.  In the original construction a tube tunnel was constructed in the breakwater to allow light keeper access to the light from shore during stormy conditions.  Unfortunately the tunnel flooded in the first storm so it was never used.  This is a steady green light.




USA 238  Duluth North Pier Head

Duluth North Pier
Creative Commons photo
By pmarkham
Pete Markham

USCG # 15855

H 43'    Range 16 mi    Iso R 6s

Built in 1910 this graceful 36 foot tower stands strong against all the fury Lake Superior can dish out.  Fitted with a 5th order Fresnel lens (http://terrypepper.com/lights/closeups/illumination/fresnel/5order.htm) the light is visible for 11 miles.  There were many nights when I brought our 39 foot cruiser from the Apostle Islands to Duluth that I greatly appreciated the clear direction this and the South Breakwater light provided.

      Access to USA 238 is easy from Canal Park, and while I usually operate from the beach someday I do want to walk out to this light, drape my end-fed dipole over the concrete wall and see if I can make a few contacts.



USA 240  Duluth Inner Range Light     Duluth
                    Inner Range
Creative Commons photo
By pmarkham
Pete Markham

USCG # 15860,



Fl W 5s,   H 68',  Range 18mi

         Duluth Entry QSL Card

Built 1889 and upgraded to iron in 1901.

    A range light assists captains in aligning their course exactly with ship canal.  The rear is mounted higher than the front light allowing both to be seen at the same time and if in vertical alignment the ship is on course.

     Recently, in 1995 the 4th order Fresnel lens in the range light was replaced, the original being given to the Lake Superior Marine museum where it was restored and is now on display for you to see. 


    And below is a stitched panorama view I took of the Duluth Ship Canal showing all three lighthouses and the Aerial Lift Bridge that spans the canal.  Photo was taken from my usual parking location when I am activating the lighthouses.  This was a cold, clear late winter morning following a strong storm that left ice covering the area and damage to the light fixture on the left.  Lake Superior is to the left in this image.

                    Park Stitched

USA   861 Two Harbors, Historical Two Harbors Brick
Creative Commons Photo
By pmarkham
Pete Markham

USCG # 16500, Two Harbors Light,



 Fl (2)W 20s,  H 78', Range 23mi

                    At the Two Harbors Lighthouse

Steven, KD0ETC
Photo by

Seunghyup Kang

                      Harbors Lighthouse QSL Card
    Build 1892 at Agate Bay.

    4th Order Fresnel lens, originally.  Now an aerobeacon.

    28 miles up the shore from Duluth is the city of Two Harbors, where iron ore, (now taconite pellets) is loaded onto 1000 foot long ore boats for shipment to the steel mills down lake. 
    Now owned and manged by the Lake County Historical Society, the keepers cottage is open as a bed and breakfast inn, and as a museum with public tours. 




USA   1024  Two Harbors East Breakwater Two Harbors East
Creative Commons Photo
By minasodaboy

USCG #16505



 Fl R 6s,  H 32', Range 10mi

                    At Two Harbors Breakwater Light

Steven, KD0ETC
Photo by

Seunghyup Kang

Built 1897

Located at the end of the Breakwater, a pleasant walk in mild weather giving an excellent view of both Lake Superior and the ore docks in the harbor.





  Two Harbors Ore Docks  Ship at Two Harbors Ore
  Creative Commons Photo                           Creative Commons Photo.
  By Mykl Roventine                                      By pmarkam                           

  Ore docks from the breakwater                   M/V Edgar Speer loading taconite pellets

USA   783 Split Rock Split Rock Lighthouse
Creative Commons photo
By Templarion
Paul Huber


LAT: 47° 12.0' N

LON: 091° 22.0' W,

FL 10s,  H 184', Range 22mi, 
3rd-order bivalve Fresnel lens,

         Split Rock Lighthouse QSL Card

Built 1910.
    20 miles north of Two Harbors, Minnesota,  Split Rock Lighthouse is now Split Rock State Park, where the well preserved and maintained lighthouse is open to the public and interpreted by State Park and State Historical Society staff.

   "A single storm on Nov. 28, 1905, damaged 29 ships, fully one third of which were the uninsured property of the steel company fleet. Two of these carriers foundered on this rocky coastline, which some called "the most dangerous piece of water in the world." Mn Hist Soc

     I have driven there many times to operate from various location in the park where I had a view of the light.  For 2011 Christmas Lights I got permission to set up my rig and antenna right at the base of the tower, under the fog horns seen in the QSL card image.  It was a fine December day, the weather was mild and I had a great time sharing this light with other collectors. 
    Each visit has not been as successful.  On one Summer occasion RFI was so loud and persistent from an unknown source I made only one contact.  And in addition the flies were so bad I abandoned the effort and retreated back to Duluth.    Thanks now to Permethrin I am more prepared to battle flies on my portable outings. 





USA   330 Grand Marais Grand Marais

                    Marais East Lighthouse

Creative Commons Photo By Mykl Roventine

         Grand Marais QSL card

Built in 1922 to replace the original 1885 structure.
34-foot steel tower, original 1885 Fifth-Order lens 




USA   1382 Grand Marais

No photo available
Listed with the ARLHS World List of Lights, USA 1382 was the original Light and is the foundation of USA 330.  It was built in 1885 and suffered much damage from Lake Superior storms before being replaced.

USA   1383 Grand Marais
West Breakwater
Grand Marais West
                    Breakwater Light
Creative Commons Photo
By Mykl Roventine

Built in 1902
     Grand Marais is the furthest away of the lighthouses I drive to.  111 miles up Highway 61 (yes, the same HW61 of "Highway 61 Revisited" by Bob Dylan) toward the Canadian boarder  so I do not go there often.  But it is a pleasant drive along the rugged, rocky shore of Lake Superior.  Prior to its construction (started in 1926) the North Shore Lighthouses and communities depended upon ships to supply them. 

The Mataafa was one of the ships caught on Lake Superior during the storm of 1905. Duluth residents watched as the ship's drama played out only 700 feet from shore. (Hugh McKenzie, Lake Superior Maritime Collections, UW-Superior)

The Mataafa
   Safety of shipping was the reason for the construction of lighthouses.  Split Rock Lighthouse for instance was constructed following the disastrous storm of 1905.  The
North Shore Visitor has some information on shipwrecks along this dangerous coast.

Hear the Minnesota Public Radio story:  Click here

I recently installed a 20AHr SLA battery in my trunk, right next to the FT-857d which provides the power this radio needs to put out 100 watts.  Before, I ran it off the car battery with a cable back to the trunk, but the voltage dropped quickly forcing me to start the engine.  Now that does not happen so I do not have to idle the car engine for long periods.

Thank you for visiting my site and I hope it has been interesting.  Please let me know if any of the links do not work.  I will correct them.  Is there other information you would like to see here?

You can view web cams of the Duluth area from these links:
1.  Lake Superior Marine Museum.  Directs its camera at the Duluth Ship Canal and Lighthouses USA 237 and USA 238

2  The Aquarium Cam shows you the Duluth Harbor on the inside of the the Ship Canal with an image of the Aerial Lift Bridge and USA 240 behind it.

3.  Northern Images Photography has multiple views of the Duluth Harbor available.  Please take time to view his gallery of images of the area.

4.  Visit Duluth has a camera on the hill looking down on the harbor and Bay Front Park

5.  Solglimt Bed and Breakfast has a camera set up just off the beach looking out toward USA 237 and USA 238.  On one occasion I set up my rig on the beach in from of the camera and made contacts while the operators observed me sitting there. 

6.  The Duluth Harbor Cam.Com has multiple view of the harbor.  In addition there are some archive images and listing of ship traffic.

7.  The EarthCam network has a camera showing Lake Superior and Lake Place Park in downtown Duluth.  Lake Place is one location that I set up portable where I can easily view the three lighthouses on the Duluth Ship Canal (Breakwater), USA 237, USA 238, USA 240.  With this parks proximity to downtown Duluth it is a 'colorful' location to operate from and where I am often visited by Duluth residents who are also not employed and have, like me,  a lot of time to just hand around.  Even here I have never been threatened or intimidated by anyone on my portable outings and often find their curiosity and lack of reserve very refreshing  in contrast to the reserve most people show.  Then perhaps, seeing an older man sitting alone on a bench or under a tree, talking to himself with his belongs in pile would not appear to present an invitation to come over and visit.  Usually I am left alone to talk with my friends on the radio.  There was one young couple that was picnicing near where I had set up and they watched me for awhile, came to trust I was not dangerous and walked over to talk.  They asked if I might be Bill Nye the Science Guy and we had a good laugh and a nice chat about Ham radio.  A bit more about safety:  I do not go out portable at night.  That is too risky. 

8.  Grand Marais, MN, up the North Shore has a webcam.  The image I saw was of the Coast Guard Station.  The lighthouses were not in the frame.

Steven Balliette
Duluth, Minnesota, USA

25 October 2012 Flag Counter