Moving Museums: Planes, Trains, Fire Trucks and Boats
These museums and sites have visitors marveling at transportation history, from early aviation to steam trains and fire engines, handcrafted wooden boats, and commercial shipping in the Great Lakes.
Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, Duluth
The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center is a free museum operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The museum is located near the Aerial Lift Bridge and overlooks the entrance to the Duluth-Superior harbor. Exhibits explore the history of upper Great Lakes commercial shipping and the Aerial Lift Bridge. Visitors particularly enjoy the replica cabins and a pilothouse from typical ships that ploughed the waves of Lake Superior in years past. A three-story steam engine, 50 scale models and many interactive displays are available for visitors to explore. Plus, thousand-foot-long freighters pass within 200 feet of the building—an exciting sight for young and old.
Split Rock Lighthouse, 20 miles north of Two Harbors
No visit to Minnesota is complete without a trip to Split Rock Lighthouse. Completed by the U.S. Lighthouse Service in 1910, today it is one of America's best-preserved lighthouses. A visit offers a glimpse of life at an early 20th-century lighthouse, in a remote and spectacular setting. Tour the lighthouse, fog-signal building and the restored keeper's dwelling. The Visitor Center features an award-winning film, exhibits and a museum store.
Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site, Little Falls
Flying enthusiasts will enjoy the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site, where they can sit in a replica cockpit of the Spirit of St. Louis and learn about the famous aviator’s life and legacy. Lindbergh’s boyhood home and attached museum are filled with family possessions, exhibits on aviation, inventions, photographs and artifacts, many of them never before publicly displayed.
The Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum, Alexandria
Lake traditions and legacies are celebrated at the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum in Alexandria. Galleries devoted to fishing memorabilia, antique Chris-Craft boats, speedboat racing and duck boats are featured, with additional changing exhibits. 2012 brings a new addition to the museum: The Maritime Garden, which will showcase water features, landscape designs and flower gardens.
Jackson Street Roundhouse, St. Paul
The Great Northern Railway’s historic Jackson Street Roundhouse, a former steam engine maintenance facility in St. Paul, provides a unique opportunity for kids of all ages to experience railroading. Visitors can see exhibits featuring local and regional railway history, vintage steam engines, and a rare operating roundhouse turntable at this unique museum.
Firefighters Hall and Museum, Minneapolis
Where can you find an 1894 steam fire engine, a 1919 ladder truck and a 1932 custom pumper fire truck? At the Firefighters Hall and Museum in northeast Minneapolis, of course! Slide down a real fire pole, don authentic firefighting gear and try your hand with on a vintage fire alarm telegraph system. In the summer, you can even get a ride on an old fire truck! The museum is only open on Saturdays, so plan ahead.