Tours & Museums
Step back in time
Dive deeper into a historic Wisconsin town.
These museums offer a close-up look at everything from the heyday of Great Lakes shipping, lumber and mining exploits to World War II aviation, accordions and more.
Land At The Bong
America’s “Ace of Aces.”
Explore the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center, which honors America’s veterans, to see a rare P-38 Lightning World War II fighter, military vehicles and other extraordinary artifacts. Stories and events at this unique center, near Barker’s Island, offer a deeper sense of what it means to serve and sacrifice. And give a glimpse into the life of the Air Force’s “Ace of Aces.”
A whale of a ship
The last of the whaleback freighters.
Explore the pilot house, cargo holds and more at the SS Meteor Maritime Museum on Barker’s Island. The SS Meteor, built-in 1896 in Superior and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was among an innovative class of ships whose cigar-shaped steel hulls rode low with cargo as they crossed the Great Lakes. The seasonal museum also features exhibits on Twin Ports shipbuilding history and Great Lakes shipwrecks.
Painting our past
Stories of Superior history
Stroll the Superior Public Library to view 35 murals by Carl Gawboy, renowned artist, scholar and member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. The murals depict local history in painted stories—from the Ojibwe story of the beginning of the earth to 20th century milestones like the wreck of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. The 729-foot ship departed from Superior’s Allouez Bay iron docks on a beautiful day, November 9, 1975, only to sail into one of the worst storms ever to occur on Lake Superior. The Fitz was the largest and most recent shipwreck on the big lake they call Gitchigammi, taking the lives of 29 mariners.
Local artists have covered numerous businesses with lively, lovely artworks. How many do you notice while traveling the town?
Fire-fighting has always been tough work. Get a unique peek at the evolution of fire engines—from horse-drawn rigs and pump steamers to early ladder trucks—at the Old Firehouse, built in 1898, and Wisconsin’s Police & Fire Hall of Fame. Seasonal, self-guided tours.
Located in historic Swedish Vasa Hall, the Douglas County Historical Society offers exhibits, community programs and history-based theater on its renovated stage.
Solon Springs Historical Museum
Moved from the country to its current site, the John Beck Log Home has been restored with early 20th century furnishings and houses old ledgers and maps, photos and artifacts. Open weekends in the summer.
Explore the Gordon area’s historic ties with the railroad, lumber, mining and fur trading eras of old. The museum, Soo Line Depot and a one-room schoolhouse are open in the summer. For a real high, visit one of Wisconsin’s only remaining fire towers that’s open to the public. Check the calendar for events before you go, or rent the cabin at the foot of the Gordon Fire Tower for a chance to experience history with breathtaking views.
The Davidson Windmill and Eskolin Log House
The unique 1904 Davidson Windmill, on the National Historic Register, served local farmers milling flour and cracking cattle feed. Constructed using local materials, its handmade gears are an engineering marvel. Adjacent to the mill in South Range, the Eskolin Finnish Log House represents the region’s early Finnish construction with its complex, dovetailed joints. Tours available through the Old-Brule Heritage Society.
Glensheen Mansion, perched on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Duluth, is the most visited historic home in Minnesota. The 7-acre estate features gardens, bridges and the famous 39-room mansion built with remarkable 20th century craftsmanship, telling the story of the Twin Ports region.
Love aviation history? Visit the Lake Superior Squadron’s Armed Forces Museum at the Bong Airport to see more artifacts and the work of CAF volunteers restoring vintage planes at the Bong Airport, including a PBY-6A Catalina “Black Cat” flying boat and the OY-2 “Carin’ Belle” transport plane.
The Center at the University of Wisconsin, Superior, hosts theater performances, art exhibits and recitals. Named after Holden, from Holden Insurance Company and his wife, Lucille, who helped to finance the building. The 237-seat Manion Theatre is named for Professor Emeritus O. Gayle Manion, who taught at UWS from 1952-1983. John Webb, whose name graces the recital hall, was a music professor from 1945 to 1973.
The Lake Superior Estuarium is a gateway to the headwaters of the Great Lakes. Beautiful interactive displays tell stories of the St. Louis River Estuary, Lake Superior, and the communities on their shores. The exhibit hall includes a play area for young children, maps to orient you to the largest estuary on Lake Superior, and information to help you get out and explore.