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Tag: pit stops

Only Ashes: Ortonville’s Grand Columbian Hotel

Only Ashes: Ortonville’s Grand Columbian Hotel

We stopped for lunch in Ortonville during our trip to photograph some places in July of 2012, and we couldn’t pass up the chance to shoot a few places in such a beautiful little town.

Ortonville, Minnesota

Ortonville is a small resort town of about two thousand nestled on the southern shore of Big Stone Lake, right on the South Dakota border. Downtown Ortonville cascades down the side of a hill to the beautiful lakeshore, and is dotted with historic structures.  Most notable is the Columbian Hotel.  Although the Columbian looks to have gone through at least a partial restoration at some point, there was no visible activity on the Saturday afternoon we visited. We weren’t sure of the operational status of the hotel, but we noticed it was on on the National Register of Historic Places.

UPDATE:  This hotel burned to the ground just months after our visit.  Sadly, it is gone forever.

Ortonville, Minnesota Columbian Hotel

Ortonville, Minnesota

KSFY/Sioux Falls reported on October 26th, 2012:

At about 3:07 am, Ortonville Police and Fire Departments were called to the fire at the intersection of Northwest 2nd Street and Jefferson Avenue.

The initial report stated fire was coming out of the basement windows of the old Columbian Hotel building. However, when police and fire crews arrived they found the building totally engulfed by flames.

The hotel was completely destroyed in a fire. You can read more about it and see a few photos courtesy Bluestem Prairie.

Ortonville, Minnesota

Ortonville, Minnesota



Ortonville, Minnesota

Ortonville, Minnesota

Ortonville, Minnesota

Look at those rates!

Ortonville, Minnesota

This is the Ortonville Water Department building, dating to 1933.  It’s right along the shore of the lake.  There’s a public beach and waterfront dock just behind the trees on the right.

See a lot more photos of Ortonville here.

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2012 Sonic Tremor Media LLC

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Canal Park and Aerial Lift Bridge

Canal Park and Aerial Lift Bridge

Canal Park in Duluth is a very enjoyable place to spend some time if you love the outdoors, the water, and drinking and dining.  The main attraction is really the aerial lift bridge, but there is a ton to see and do.  We visited for three days and had a great time.

Pictured above are the two lighthouses at the tip of each pier at the entrance from Lake Superior to the Duluth-Superior Harbor.  The ships travel the channel in between the two piers, under the aerial lift bridge.

This is the aerial lift bridge.  It is an amazing sight.  It started out as an aerial transporter — or gondola — bridge.  It was one of only two transporter bridges ever constructed in the United States.  Originally, a gondola hung from the superstructure, and vehicles would be loaded onto the gondola, and then transported across the harbor — like a ferry suspended from the bridge.  In 1930, the gondola was replaced with the lift bridge road surface — a roadway that raises and lowers every half hour to allow ships to pass underneath.

This lighthouse resides on the north pier and is a popular tourist destination.  It’s is a stone’s throw from the Comfort Suites, right on the Lakewalk.

In the photo above, you can see the lift bridge going up on the right to allow our boat to pass underneath.  The traffic in canal park gets pretty hairy every time this bridge goes up.

This small bridge is actually a draw bridge which breaks open in the center and raises in two pieces.  It marks the entrance between the harbor and the marina.

We took a Lake Superior and Harbor cruise on this boat, the Vista Star.  The Vista Fleet is a very affordable and fun way to spend an afternoon in Canal Park, Duluth.

When we woke up on the second day of our trip, a fog had rolled in off Lake Superior.

Below is a bird’s eye view of Canal Park.  You can see the lift bridge left of center.  On the left is Lake Superior, and on the right is the Duluth Harbor.

Photos by Troy, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC


Vals Burgers & Fries

Vals Burgers & Fries

This is not an abandoned place, but if you’re ever on a long car trip, looking for abandoned places to photograph, and you’re hungry for some lunch… this is the place.  Val’s Burgers & Fries.  It’s on Lincoln Avenue in St. Cloud.  They have incredible burgers, and they just fill the bottom of your bag with fries.  There is no dining room, and customers order via a touch screen computer in the lobby.  Excellent grub.