Discover Duluth: Return to Congdon ParkCongdon Park: your personal fortress of solitude against the hordes of turistas.
By: Matthew R. Perrine, Budgeteer News
Congdon Park, which celebrated its 100th birthday a little more than a year ago, occupies the nearly 34-acre stretch of Tischer Creek from Superior Street to Vermilion Road. It was donated to the city by Chester Congdon during the construction of Glensheen.
Tom Kasper, lead park maintenance worker and expert on the city’s parks, said that before Congdon handed it over, he hired a crew to equip the nature area with wooden bridges and large stone steps. While Kasper said all of the bridges had to be replaced within the last 20 years, a majority of the steps are used to this day.
It’s only fitting, then, that the popular entry point to the park at East Superior Street and Congdon Park Drive — a beautifully curated display courtesy of the Tischer Creek Garden Club marks the spot — features a trip down (sometimes too literally) some of those wide stone slabs masquerading as stairs.
What one first notices on this stark descent is really a mystery. Is it the canyons painted red with rhyolite? Is it the abundance of water? Is it the general sense of tranquility, like you’ve stumbled onto a secret place in the universe only a few know about?
Whatever it is, it absorbs you. Something this great shouldn’t exist within any city’s limits. Its high rock walls let you leave Duluth, if just for the duration of your stay, and allow you to completely ignore the fact that you’re surrounded by houses on both sides.
But the experience only gets better. As you walk over the conveniently placed footbridges (which are, in themselves, odd for a city park), you start to hear even more water. Coming down from high above is a mini-waterfall, breathtaking in its own right.
And, not to take too much away from the attached photo galleries, but this is soon followed by a series of cascading waterfalls among the twists and turns of Tischer Creek.
Congdon was on to something — a view shared by New York landscape engineer A.U. Morrell, who once wrote of the mining baron’s paradise: “There is no combination of stream and hillsides, woodland, waterfall and canyon in or near any other American city that is capable of development for beauty and utility comparing with that lying on both sides of Tischer Creek.”
Words of wisdom, my friends.
As an added bonus, if you somehow get too tired walking up to the park’s terminus at Vermilion Road, Congdon Park is equipped with a spacious, fairly level utility trail (which is quite a breeze) in addition to its fun-filled hiking trail.
Sure, you’ll miss out on all the views, but it’s nice to have at times, like when you slam a Mountain Dew Throwback before hitting the two miles of trails and remember, Oh yeah, this is still nature at its finest: In all of his rich-beyond-belief, turn-of-the-century wisdom, the almighty Chester Congdon neglected to install any porta-potties!
“Discover Duluth” is an ongoing photo essay series by Matthew R. Perrine that highlights points of interest in and around the region. For more photos from this set, click on the accompanying photo galleries.