On my way back from some field research on the North Shore's Sucker River this week, I stopped for lunch at the McQuade Harbor off Scenic Old Highway 61. If you appreciate the power of engineering to solve almost any problem, this is a great stop. Planners pulled out all the stops to 1) make the water deep enough for boats with underwater dynamite, 2) hold off the storm waves of Lake Superior with massive breakwalls, and 3) ensure no pedestrian gets run over on sleepy 61 by installing a tunnel under the highway. What had been basically just eroding shoreline has turned into a full safe harbor and recreation destination.
It is also a great stop for artists.
First, who knew that Edward Hopper based his famous painting "Rooms by the Sea" on this North Shore tunnel?
Second, the acoustics in the tunnel are fantastic. Sounds echo and fade out for at least a full second, like in a cavernous subway station. I could totally imagine a saxophone player or violinist playing, the tunnel resonating their music and projecting it out onto Lake Superior.
So grab your brush and canvas, pack up the cello or the flute, and head to McQuade for fun and inspiration. And keep your eyes and ears out for the NEW tunnel at the Split Rock River Wayside.