North Shore open for business

  • Article by: JEFF STRICKLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 21, 2012 - 11:51 AM

Telephones were ringing in the resorts along the North Shore on Wednesday with one question: Can we still come?

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Brytton George rode his bike Wednesday near his home in Carlton, Minn., about 20 miles south of Duluth.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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Telephones were ringing in the resorts along the North Shore on Wednesday with one question: Can we still come?

The answer: "Absolutely," said Darrin Young, general manager of Superior Shores in Two Harbors. "We've got a house full of guests, and they've been out on the beach watching the storm."

Still, after seeing pictures of the flooding in Duluth online, he wasn't surprised to have to reassure people with weekend reservations.

"That's the worst [storm] I've seen, and I've been here for 45 years," he said.

While torrential rains wreaked havoc around Duluth, it wasn't expected to have much effect on visitors, aside from about 150 camping spots in state parks that are closed because of inaccessible roads.

"We're still poised for a good weekend up here," said Paul Nordlund, general manager of Eagle Ridge Resort at Lutsen Mountains.

"If this had happened on a Friday, that might have been a problem. But on a Wednesday, we'll be fine by the weekend."

Because tourism is such an important part of the economy, crews raced to repair washouts and mudslides.

Many roads in Duluth were closed during the storm, including Interstate 35, but several businesses reported that customers from the Twin Cities were arriving via detours that added as little as 20 minutes to the travel time.

"We're telling people to come up through Grand Rapids and then cross over to Silver Bay," said Bill Hansen, owner of Sawbill Canoe Outfitters in Tofte.

"It adds extra time, but given the construction along 35, it's been taking that long anyway to come up the highway."

Even in Duluth, which took the brunt of the storm, most of the businesses have reopened.

"All the hotels are open, all the restaurants are open, everything is open," said Gene Shaw, spokesman for Visit Duluth. "Everybody is rarin' to go."

Campers with reservations at Jay Cooke, Savanna Portage and Moose Lake are being encouraged to check the Department of Natural Resources website (www.dnr.state.mn.us) for updates on closures.

"Things are changing very rapidly for us right now, and as we have updates, we'll post them," said Cheri Zeppelin, information officer for the DNR's northeast region.

If you do opt to go north, you might be rewarded for your effort.

"The Pigeon River Falls and Gooseberry Falls are really ripping," she said.

Jeff Strickler • 612-673-7392

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