Glensheen Mansion Reveals Forgotten History of Scenic Drive

Northland Uncovered: North Shore Scenic Drive

There’s a scenic route in the Northland with hidden gems for tourists to enjoy as they head up to Grand Marais.

This is the vision Chester Congdon had for the Northland.

“I mean there are so many connections with Chester along the North Shore I could give an hour–long lecture,” said Dan Hartman, Director of Glensheen.

Congdon was an iron-ore tycoon with a passion for the beautiful nature in the Northland.

His dream was to build a drive along the North Shore from Duluth to Canada.

He called it the Lake Superior International Highway.

“Even in his obituary they always mention about this great vision for this drive and how he died before he could see it completed,” said Hartman.

The original plan had the road starting at 10th Ave. E. in Duluth.

“If you take the drive today you’ll see there was a lot of development between here and Glensheen. That was not the intent,” said Hartman.

Congdon had major influence in town and took charge of the project.

“We have the blueprint of the Lester River Bridge because they paid for it,” said Hartman.

One third of the road construction on the way to Two Harbors was paid outright by the Congdon family.

“I mean you don’t hear of private families paying for public roads,” Hartman said.
Today, the drive is 110 miles long and it takes almost four hours to make the drive without stopping.

“We’ve lost all that history of the past and we’re trying to bring it back,” Hartman explained.

The folks taking care of the Congdon Estate are helping highlight the stops Chester would have appreciated.

“Not just Two Harbors to Gooseberry, we want them to see Duluth to Grand Marais,” said Hartman.

They’ve created a website,, for travelers to easily map out their adventures.

“It’s kind of our way to get that experience Chester wanted you to have 100 years ago,” said Hartman.

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