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Agate Bay Railroad Tracks

If you’re walking along the shore of Agate Bay in Two Harbors near the lighthouse, you might stumble upon something strange. A set of railroad tracks that begin at the edge of the water and lead into the harbor. The Agate Bay Railroad Tracks then vanish beneath the dark waters of Lake Superior.  Mere feet away from the shoreline. It’s a strange sight that will immediately make you wonder about the history of the tracks and why they lead into the water.

History of the Agate Bay Railroad Tracks

No, there is not an underwater train that you can ride. And, there never was. Instead, this set of tracks once served the booming commercial fishing village of Agate Bay. The tracks were used to transport boats in and out of the water from a boathouse that sat in the middle of the Scandinavian town.  

A Scandinavian “Ghost Town”

You may be wondering what happened to the fishing village and the industry that once thrived in the area. It all started with an invasion. An invasion of the sea lamprey, that is. It all started in 1935 and led to the downfall of commercial fishing on the Great Lakes by 1955. The sea lamprey, originally from the Atlantic Ocean, entered the Great Lakes through the locks and canals, and eventually led to the demise of Great Lake commercial fishing.

This invasive species, latch onto fish such as lake trout and whitefish and live off of their blood and bodily fluids. A single lamprey kills approximately 40 pounds of fish throughout its lifetime. They also grow to be up to 20 inches long, giving it a slimy eel-like appearance. Overall, a very unwelcomed presence in Lake Superior.

Saving Lake Superior

Since the invasion, biologists have been able to deplete the sea lamprey populations by 90%. They accomplished this by securing the canals that they once traveled freely through. These efforts have made great strides in reducing overall invasive species numbers in Lake Superior. The commercial fishing trade, while not back to its previous levels, was able to be revived.

Not Soon Enough for Agate Bay

The Great Lakes fisheries are alive again, valued around 4.5 billion dollars per year. However, it didn’t happen quickly enough for the Agate Bay fishing village. By the time the industry was revived the village had vanished, and the people who once ran the fisheries there were long gone. Along with them, most of the Agate Bay railroad tracks. Regardless, the village played a large role in the rise of the fishing industry on the great lakes and the development of the city of Two Harbors.

Though little is left to remind visitors of the vibrant fishing village that existed many years ago, the Agate Bay railroad tracks sliding into Lake Superior can still be spotted on a clear day. Next time you’re in Two Harbors, see if you can spot them!

Getting There

To get there, you will drive 25 miles north of Duluth on Highway 61 to the town of Two Harbors. Once in town, take a right onto Park Rd and continue for 1.1 miles. Then, park in the parking lot and begin following the paved walking trail to the north. You will be going in the opposite direction of the lighthouse. The Agate Bay railroad tracks and a marker will be on the left side of the trail. This hidden gem is definitely something you’ll want to check out!

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