... for the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center

Earlier this week the automatic counters logged the 20 millionth guest at the Lake

Superior Maritime Visitor Center (aka the marine museum) at the foot of the Aerial

Lift Bridge. And that person paid exactly what all 19,999,999 people before to enjoy

the interactive exhibits celebration the Twin Ports and Lake Superior maritime

heritage – $0.

The free facility, run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and supported with funds

for exhibits and with artifacts from the Lake Superior Marine Museum Association ,

opened in 1973 as a service to visitors and to be a focal point for port history.

This year the center has set in place several new exhibits, including one of the coolest interactive options that brings the Soo Locks to Duluth, allowing visitors totake control thanks to a fast-motion video, a bank of four large screens and aninteractive control board similar to what the real lock keepers use. Videographer Jack Lind did a short no-sound video to show off the exhibit, located in a newly created alcove that makes the screens look like windows.

That is not the only new thing to view at the free center, though. Earlier this year, a

refreshed exhibit about the ill-fated Edmund Fitzgerald occupies one wall in the

center and focuses on images of the crew and a touch-screen showing video clips of

the ship's launching, of it going through the locks and about the weather conditions

on Nov. 10, 1975, when it sank.

In the center’s entryway, another interactive exhibit show the real-time rip current  conditions at Park Point and explains that sometimes dangerous phenomenon.

Interim director Sara Summers-Luedtke says people often come to the center looking for information on when the freighters will come through the canal, then are pleasantly surprised by what it offers.

"In a lot of cases, people just stumble upon it and are surprised about what we have

to offer. … I hear a lot of people tell me that they live in Duluth but have never been


There will be yet another impressive display that should be up and running by the end of this year. That exhibit, to be located by the reception desk, will feature interactive screens, letting visitors use web trackers to see what boats are on Lake Superior and where they are headed, plus with information "to learn more about what happens behind the Lift Bridge and in the harbor," Sara says. "Cameras will show real-time what's happening at the Two Harbors ore docks and the Wisconsin Point entry in Superior, too.

The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center is open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. through Labor

Day, then switches to 10 a.m.-6 p.m. You can support the center by shopping at the

gift shop or by joining the Lake Superior Marine Museum Association, which

launched its Cruise of a Lifetime Raffle for a ride on the Great Lakes Fleet’s Edwin H.

Gott ore freighter.