87 Lake Superior Museums
The museums around the Lake Superior Circle Tour help to paint a picture of how the communities came to be and the significance that Lake Superior had on them. From logging, fishing and mining to Native Americans and settlers, each community tells has its own story to tell. Learning the history of the wonderful places we visit helps us to appreciate them that much more. Here are the museums of Lake Superior that you can add to your Circle Tour plans.
Museum Ship Valley Camp
Sault Ste. Marie, MI
Explore the interior of the 550 foot (170m) long Valley Camp Great Lakes Freighter. This unique Maritime Museum has over 100 exhibits inside its 20,000 square foot cargo hold. Some items exhibited are historical artifacts, paintings, recovered shipwreck items, and two lifeboats from the SS Edmund Fitzgerald wreck.
River of History Museum
Sault Ste. Marie, MI
The museum chronologically follows the history of the St. Mary’s River and Sault Ste Marie for 8,000 years, from the glacial period to the present day. From the rich history of the Anishinaabe Native Americans to French settlers, fur trading, lumbering and fishing, you will learn all about it at this interesting museum.
Tower of History
Sault Ste. Marie, MI
The lower level of this 210 foot (64 m) tall tower showcases historical exhibits about Native American and regional history. There are information panels throughout the entire tower with an express elevator that takes visitors to observation decks that offer views of the city, Soo Locks, the St. Mary’s River, Lake Superior and the twin city in Ontario Canada across the river.
Wheels of History Train Museum
Climb aboard this 1905 wooden railroad passenger car and caboose and learn the history of the Brimley area. See fascinating historical exhibits and artifacts from the railroad, telephones, logging, fishing, Great Lake ships and local family histories.
Point Iroquois Lighthouse
This historical lighthouse offers visitors a museum, giftshop, and hosts several educational programs. Take a self guided tour and climb the 72 steps up the light tower and take a stroll down the boardwalk to the Lake Superior shoreline and watch ships go by to and from Soo Locks.
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
The museum’s complex includes the museum building, the 155-year operating Whitefish Point Light Tower, lightkeepers quarters, the Surfboat House and gift shop. Take a self guided tour of the Museum building and exhibits of the haunting world of shipwrecks and the stories of the sailors and ships that were lost to Superior’s dangerous waves.
Tahquamenon Logging Museum
Take a tour of the museum and see artifacts and a slide presentation of early logging in Michigan. The museums facilities include a cook shack, original family dwelling, a music pavilion, picnic area, nature trail, boardwalk and gift shop. They offer a “Lumberjack Breakfast” in the Cook Shack that includes bacon, eggs, sausage, pancakes and fried potatoes cooked on the old wood stove.
Grand Marais, MI
Resembling two barrels, this quirky museum was originally built in 1926 as a summer home for William Donahey, the cartoonist of the Chicago Tribune’s “Teenie Weenie” cartoon strip. The larger barrel is 16 feet tall (4.9m) and had two stories. The interior contains a 1920s era living area, pantry, kitchen and bedroom.
Gitche Gumee: Agate and History Museum
Grand Marais, MI
This is the ideal museum for any rockhound and history buff. Learn about the geology and minerals found in the region, including the much sought-after Lake Superior Agate, and local history. The gift shop includes unique gift items, mineral art, jewelry, agates and mineral specimens.
Light Keeper’s House Museum
Grand Marais, MI
This museum is situated on the shore of Lake Superior along with the Grand Marais Harbor of Refuge, Inner Lighthouse. As you enter the museum you are swept back in time to the days of when this Lightkeepers home began operating at the turn of the century.
Alger County Heritage Center
This museum is found within a former elementary school. The museum offers a glimpse into Alger County’s history. Here you will find exhibits featuring historic Grand Island, Munising Woodenware Company, barn building, homemaking, saunas and so much more.
Pictured Rocks Interpretive Center
Take a self guided tour and immerse yourself in the local history. Watch a narrated thirteen-minute video detailing the local fishing and logging industry, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This is a great place to begin your visit to the area and Pictured Rocks with a great gift shop to bring a piece of Munising home with you.
Lakenenland Sculpture Park
This is a unique and quirky outdoor sculpture gallery/museum that you can walk or even drive though. There are over 80 incredible sculptures constructed by artist Tom Lakenen, of recycled iron welded into massive works of art. This is a fun place to explore with a pond, covered shelter with a fireplace, and small playground.
Marquette Maritime Museum
This museum is next to the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse and visitors will have the opportunity to explore both the museum and lighthouse and learn about maritime history. The museum includes a display of 19th century Fresnel lenses and various artifacts and exhibits on the Edmund Fitzgerald, ore freighters, World War 2, and the history of Lake Superior shipping.
Michigan Iron Industry Museum
This museum is situated overlooking the Carp River Forge site, where iron was first forged in the Lake Superior region in 1848 to 1855. The museum teaches visitors about the iron industry and its impact on the surrounding communities. It includes hands-on exhibits, audiovisual programs as well as outdoor interpretive paths, and serves as the focal base for the 47-mile (76km) Iron Ore Heritage Trail.
Negaunee Historical Society Museum
This museum features three floors of exhibits and artifacts displaying the town’s iron mining heritage. The 19th century décor will enable you to truly experience the history. You will also find military, school, railroad and city band displays, antique dental equipment, Native American artifacts, and a Dominic Jacobetti display.
Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum
This museum is a former iron mine and offers visitors a glimpse into the history of the mining era through artifacts, displays, exhibits and mining equipment. You can also visit the Ishpeming Rock and Mineral room where you can view over 500 minerals. There are even guided tours that will take you through mine tunnels to walk in the footsteps of the miners.
Da Yoopers Tourist Trap
Outside this gift shop you will find many innovation displays. Some include, “Gravel Gertie” is the largest motorized tricycle possibly in the world. “Big Gus” is the world’s largest working chainsaw measuring an astonishing 22 feet, 11 inches long, and “Big Ernie” is the world’s largest working rifle measuring 35 feet long. Big Ernie is in the Guinness Book of World Records! Among many other over-sized, innovative and unusual displays. The collection is ever growing so you never know what kind of unusual innovation you will see displayed when you visit.
This museum has a collection of over 125 years of artifacts and antiques. Some exhibits at the museum include mining and logging, a log house, an “Anatomy of a Murder” display, and a 1900 American LaFrance Steam Fire Engine. Guided tours are available by appointment.
Hanka Homestead Finnish Museum
This museum consists of multiple log structures of the Hanka Homestead. These structures include, the family home, blacksmith shop, sauna, milk house, root cellar, granary, garage, horse barn, chicken coop, cow barn, hay barn, outhouse, machine shed, woodshed and caretaker’s cabin. Explore and experience what it may have been like at a 1920s era farm at this open space, open door museum.
Chassell Heritage Center
Originally the building was the Chassell Elementary School built in 1917 and used as a school for 75 years. Today it is home to the Chassell Heritage Center and houses the townships history and artifacts. Discover the history of the French Canadian and Finnish early settlers, the town’s timeline through history, as well as an entire room dedicated to vintage fashion and accessories from the Friends of Fashion Vintage Clothing Collection.
Copper Range Historical Museum
South Range, MI
This museum was originally the South Range State Bank building and was built in 1900. The museum exhibits and preserves historical items conducive to the copper mining industry, logging, farming, and businesses in and around South Range.
A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum
This museum is located at the Michigan Technological University campus. The museum features the largest public exhibit and collection of minerals from the Great Lakes region and from all over the world. Visitors will learn about minerals through information panels and displays. It is internationally recognized and sees thousands of visitors every year. The museum consists of the main museum building, Phyllis and John Seaman Garden, Copper Pavilion, and the Mineral Preparation Annex.
This building was originally built in 1909 and served as a public library until 2006. Today it houses the Carnegie Museum that shows changing exhibits about the cultural and natural history of the Keweenaw. It is open year-round and to see information about the current exhibits and programs, visit their website.
The Quincy Mine mined copper and was founded in 1846 and operated until 1945. At the time, the Quincy number 2 shaft was the world’s longest shaft at 1.75 miles (2.8 km) long. In the years that it operated this mine produced 424,000 tons of native copper. The mine is now a popular tourist attraction of the Keweenaw National Historical Park. The Quincy Mine Hoist Association now owns and operates this decommissioned mine as a preserved museum where visitors can come and learn about the rich heritage and importance that mining had. They offer guided tours where visitors can visit the Number 2 Shaft House and museum, see the Nordberg Steam Hoist, the world’s largest steam powered hoist and even take a ride on a cog tram car to the mine’s entrance and then ride a wagon seven levels underground into the mine.
Houghton County Historical Museum
Lake Linden, MI
This was once the site of the biggest copper mining operation in North America. Today stands a museum that commemorates the significance that the mining industry had to the area. Along with the museum, this historical complex also includes the Lake Linden & Torch Railroad, a schoolhouse, a WPA era log cabin and a genealogical research facility. The museum itself has three floors that exhibit the local mining, logging and cultural history. Train rides on the steam locomotive are available on weekends during the season.
Laurium Manor Mansion
This lavish 45 room mansion was built in 1908 for Thomas and Cornelia Hoatson, the owner of Calumet & Arizona Mining Co. The manor was restored in 1989 to a historic mansion hotel and has been welcoming guests ever since. The mansion includes extravagant details throughout the 13,00 sq. ft. and four floors. A music parlor with a silver leaf covered domed ceiling, Stained glass windows, gilded tile fireplaces, hand painted landscape mural, ballroom, 10 guest rooms and two-story carriage house are just the beginning of the opulence you will experience here.
Calumet Visitor Center
This Visitor Center is located within the Keweenaw National Historical Park. Learn about the Park, town and the Keweenaw Peninsula through literature, displays and knowledgeable and the friendly park rangers of the Park. Discover what like was like 100 years ago during the copper boom. There are three floors of interactive exhibits, museum objects, films and activities. The visitor center provides a staffed information desk and sales outlet for the Isle Royale and Keweenaw Parks Association.
Gay Schoolhouse Museum
This museum is in a school that was built in 1927 and closed in 1961. The school served children of families working at the copper mines up until their closure in 1932. The school has taken on extensive repair and restoration before becoming a museum. The first floor of the school contains a restored classroom as well as a horse drawn buggy, a sleigh and a 1908 Jewell, one of the first horseless carriages in the Keweenaw. The museum tells a story and exhibits the impact of cooper mining on the town as well as commercial lumber and fishing in the area.
Astor House Museum
Copper Harbor, MI
This museum is a part of the Minnetonka Resort. The Resort includes log cabin cottages, gift and antique shop and of course, the Astor House Historical Museum. There you will find unique artifacts and relics of the earliest settlers, copper mining, antique dolls, salvaged shipwreck items, railroad and civil war memorabilia and so much more!
Rathbone School and Museum
Eagle Harbor, MI
This school was built in 1853 and served the community until 1872. During that time the school master, Justus H Rathbone, conceived of the idea for the ritual that became the Order of the Knights Pythias, a secret fraternal society. This school turned museum is now set up as a one room period school and include exhibits and regalia commemorating the Knights of Pythias. Its historic significance was recognized and added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse Complex
Eagle Harbor, MI
This complex consists of the Keweenaw History Museum, the Commercial Fishing Museum, the Maritime Museum and of course, the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse. The Keweenaw History Museum contains displays that exhibit mining, shipping, tourism and early life of the Keweenaw through photographs and artifacts that trace back to the 6,000 year old history of mining. There are details of the wreck of the S.S. Bangor in 1926 and its load of Chrysler automobiles. The Commercial Fishing Museum exhibits many displays of commercial fishing and activities in the Keweenaw and of the many generations of families the fished here. The Maritime museum is located inside of the old Fog Signal Building. It contains displays that look at the role of shipping on Lake Superior, models of ships, photographs, navigation displays, maritime equipment, an operational marine radio and so much more.
Eagle River Museum
Eagle River, MI
This museum focuses on four major themes, the Cliff Mine, the town of Eagle River, the town and mine of Phoenix and the amusement area known as Crestview that is found between to two towns. Cliff Mine was one of the first mines that used Eagle River as their shipping port for copper and supplies its role is one of the major exhibits at the museum. In 1909, The Keweenaw Central Railroad built a pavilion and recreation between Eagle River and Phoenix called Crestview Casino. Though it was called a casino, according to brochures published by the railroad, gambling and alcoholic beverages were not allowed there. This museum exhibits the rich history of mining in the Keweenaw.
Bammert Blacksmith Shop Museum
This museum exhibits blacksmith shop equipment as they were at the end of the nineteenth century. It acts as a tribute to what is now a dying art though blacksmith shops at the time kept communities and mines running. The Bammerts were father and son blacksmiths that served the entire Keweenaw County.
Ontonagon Historical Museum
Immerse yourself in the history and culture of the oldest permanent settlement on the south shore of Lake Superior with a visit to the Ontonagon County Historical Museum in the distinctively purple building. Examine pre-Columbian copper and stone implements, a replica of the Founder’s Cabin, copper mining tools and displays highlighting mining in the 19th and 20th centuries. Marvel at the faithful model of the Ontonagon Copper Boulder, the 3708-pound mass of float copper now in the Smithsonian Institution. The boulder drew mining companies and investors to the area and began the copper “rush” that predated the California gold rush. Enjoy exhibits that illustrate the historical logging and fishing industries. Explore displays of medical tools, musical instruments, and a host of other items that illustrate the history of the village and county. The Museum is part of the Keweenaw National Historical Park.
Old Victoria is four log cabins crafted over a hundred years ago and inhabited by copper miners and their families. The homes were restored and filled with period specific furnishings, photos and memorabilia giving visitors a true glimpse into the past. Guided and self guided tours are available.
Ironwood Historic Depot Museum
The Ironwood Historic Depot Museum is located in Ironwood Michigan. This red brick train depot was constructed for the Chicago & Northwestern railroad in 1893 to accommodate the booming iron mining industry. The rail service ended in 1970 and today the depot is utilized as a museum that showcases the history of the mining industry and early life in a mining town. In 1986 the C&NW Railway Depot was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Wakefield Historical Museum
The Wakefield Historical Society preserves, protects, and displays artifacts of local historical interest and also operates Wakefield Historical Society Museum. The museum’s collections include artifacts of local interest dating from 1884 with a strong focus on the local mining and lumber industries. Attractions include a classroom display, general store, doctor’s office and a mining room.
Iron County Historical Museum
The museum itself was built in 1893 and originally served as the town hall. There are three floors full of historical displays of iron mining to railroads, lumbering to military, home-life to religion. A weaving room shows ancient methods and looms that produce rag rugs. The museums clocktower has the clockworks for the four clocks that were set in motion in 1893. These clocks are still in operation and chime on the hour.
Ashland Historical Museum
This museum has many collections of historical artifacts and items from the Ashland area, the Soo Line ore dock, Northland College and Lake Superior. Some exhibits include early 19th century fashion, a lakeshore exhibit, native American heritage, boy scouts, tavern items, military memorabilia, sports, the Edmund Fitzgerald and much more! You can also find the Self-Guided Mural Walk Tour Guide at the museum.
Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center
This Visitor Center combines elements of history, natural resources and visitor information under one roof. Stop to stretch your legs and get some local tourist information and stay and enjoy exhibits, murals, gift shop, or stroll down the interpretive boardwalk trail. The exhibit hall consists of exhibitions showcasing everything from the Ice Age to the present. The second-floor gallery houses art from numerous regional artists.
Bayfield Maritime Museum
This museum exhibits artifact that portrays the nautical history of Bayfield and the Apostle Islands. There are several displays and educational panels as well as interactive exhibits and artifacts. You can even climb inside a couple of the boats on display, sailing knot practice, and sea lamprey tank.
Bayfield Heritage Association Museum
Bayfield Heritage Association Museum is located in Bayfield in Wisconsin’s Bayfield County. Venture back in time and learn about the people, industries, events and places that define the Bayfield, Wisconsin and Apostle Islands region through a variety of exhibits and historic landmarks including the Bayfield Model Railroad and newly-restored Old Bayfield City Jail. Learn from area historians about a range of interesting topics like shipwrecks, lighthouse keepers, and Native American history through their free educational programs.
Madeline Island Museum
Madeline Island, WI
The museum houses changing exhibits showcasing the history of the region and the island. From fur trading to Native American culture and the journey of the island becoming the tourism destination it is today. A 70-seat auditorium often has historical and interesting presentations or holds special events. There are guided tours given every hour or you can explore on your own. The museum consists of two buildings, the original museum and the Casper Center.
Cornucopia Green Shed Museum
This museum is nestled on the shore of the harbor of Siskiwit Bay and Cornucopia Beach. The building was originally the harbor fish house and now holds centuries of fishing industry history from this Lake Superior waterfront community.
Oulu Heritage Center
Iron River, WI
Take a guided tour of this Heritage Center that includes, the original Palo homestead buildings, the log home Pudas House, the former Northern Co-op store, the schoolhouse, and an authentic Finnish sauna. Learn about the town’s rich Finnish immigrant history through exhibits, archives, events, pioneer skill demonstrations and a knowledgeable guide.
Davidson Windmill and Eskolin Log House
South Range, WI
This historic windmill was built in 1900 and operated milling locally grown grains until 1926. The windmill was able to grind 300 pounds of grain every hour. The Eskolin House is a dovetail corner log cabin and was built in the early 1900’s. The property was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Tours can be scheduled by appointment and can take 30 minutes to an hour depending on your interest in history and the inner workings of windmills.
Old Firehouse & Police Museum
The Old Firehouse was built in 1898 and at the time utilized five horse drawn fire rigs. Visitors today can tour the building and see historic fire rigs on the main floor such as a 19th century horse drawn buggy, a 1906 Ahrens Stem Pumper, a 1919 LaFrance Ladder Truck and a 1944 L Model Mack with a Hale pump. The Second floor shows the advancement in firefighter equipment over time as well as a “Hall of Fame” of Wisconsin Police and Fire Departments.
Fairlawn Mansion & Museum
This Queen Ann Victorian mansion was built in 1891 for the affluent lumber and mining baron, Martin Pattison and his family. It is four stories and has forty-two rooms that looks over Superior Bay with lush and stunning flower gardens throughout the widespread lawns. The mansion has been restored and is furnished much like how it was when the Pattison’s lived there. The third floor is reminiscent of when the mansion served as a Children’s Home from 1920 to 1962.
S.S. Meteor Maritime Museum
This museum is inside of the 1896 “whaleback” designed freighter ship, S. S. Meteor. It is the last ship remaining in existence of the whaleback freighter that was designed by Captain Alexander McDougall. It was finally land berthed in 1972 where it rests today. The ship is an impressive 380 feet (120m) long and 26 feet (7.9m) deep. Visitors are able to tour the ship and see exhibits featuring Great Lakes shipwrecks and ship building. A discounted museum pass is available which gets you in here and at the nearby Fairlawn Mansion.
Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center
This Historical Center is dedicated to the memory of Major Richard I. Bong and all the veterans that have served. Major Bong was an ace pilot during WWII who piloted through more than 200 missions and had taken down 40 enemy planes which is more than any pilot before or since. The Center houses war relics, military vehicles, and aircrafts including a restored P-38 Lightning plane. Explore an interactive tour of the P-38 cockpit from your mobile device and experience a 360-degree perspective of the aircraft. There is a Veteran rate and active military are free.
A World of Accordions
Inside Harrington Arts Center you will find the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection with over 1300 instruments displayed. Learn about the evolution through the chronological history of the accordion family of instruments. The Arts Center also offers a concert space, an instrument repair school and a gift shop.
Duluth Children’s Museum
This museum if perfect for families with small children to enjoy. The interactive exhibits and creative play if both engaging and informative. The performance stage is where children can dress up and put on a show. The Ore Boat is a play station where you can climb the aerial lift bridge and slide onto the ore boat and explore. Learn about the sacred wild rice harvest through Ojibwe language. The STEM Stations allow for the exploration of physics with ramps, balls and magnets. Climb into a replica of the Cirrus Airplane with a dashboard to track your course and imagine taking flight.
Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center
This Visitor Center and Maritime Museum is located in Duluth’s historic Canal Park and showcases the Great Lakes’ history and the significance of the shipping industry though intriguing displays. Situated at the foot of Duluth’s famed Aerial Lift Bridge, it is an ideal viewing spot to watch ships coming and going under the bridge and out to Lake Superior.
The Historic Union Depot
The Depot has eight organizations under one roof with three of them exhibiting collections of artifacts and artwork, The Lake Superior Railroad Museum, The St. Louis County Historical Society, and The Duluth Art Institute. The Lake Superior Railroad Museum features a collection of railroad equipment with interactive exhibits and showcases the history of the Duluth area. The Northshore Scenic Railroad begins here utilizing the museums historic rail equipment. The St. Louis County Historical Society exhibits historical memorabilia such as their permanent exhibits; “The Immigrant Waiting Room”, the J.C. Forest History Room, Generations of Service, Lake Superior Ojibwe Gallery, and Iron mining just to name a few. The Duluth Art Institute has exhibition visual art galleries and offers education, fiber studio and darkroom.
Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum
This museum is housed in the former St James Chapel that was built in 1912. It is one of seventeen museums in the country that has a collection of more than a million manuscripts and historical documents. The documents are rotated between the museums throughout the year and various displays can be viewed anytime you may visit. One such exhibit was the Bob Dylan exhibit that displayed handwritten lyrics, signed photos and letters from the Duluth born musician.
Tweed Museum of Art
This museum is on the University of Minnesota campus. The museum of art has an elegantly displayed permanent collection of over 10,000 representing many cultures and periods of art history. Some of the artists you will encounter here are Thomas Benton, Anna Hyatt Huntington, Charles Biederman, Helen Turner, and Arnold Friberg just to name a few. Along with the massive permanent collection, there are student art displays that truly showcase their talent and perspective.
Glensheen Historical Estate
This estate is an immense 20,000 square foot, 39 room mansion on 12 acres on land that looks over Lake Superior. It was built in 1908 for the affluent Congdon family. Chester Congdon was a lawyer, capitalist and philanthropist and was a prominent figure in the development of mining in the area. The estate started operating as a museum in 1979 when it was donated to the University of Minnesota. It remains virtually intact as it was when the Congdon family lived there. There are different tour packages that allow you access to various parts of the mansion and are either self guided or led by an incredibly knowledgeable guide.
Tom’s Logging Camp
Tom’s Logging Camp offers an authentic duplicate of a typical northern Minnesota Logging Camp, with all the building and articles, original tools and equipment from that era. There is an old logging camp, horse barn, blacksmith shop, shoe shop, horseshoeing stall, bunkhouse, cook shanty and Finnish sauna. The camp also includes the Old Northwest Company Trading Post. The trading post is an attraction in itself, with animal mountings and a variety of other antiques on display. As well as an incredible collection of moccasins, pottery, dolls, handicraft from the Chippewa Tribe, turquoise jewelry, cedar craft, wild rice, native jams and syrups and so much more available for purchase.
3M Birthplace Museum
Two Harbors, MN
What began as the Minnesota mining and manufacturing venture turned into the multinational corporation of 3M. This museum showcases the innovations of the company that began in this very building when it was the law office where the 3M partners signed incorporation papers. The museum provides a look into the beginnings of the company through the various products and innovations over the years, including scotch tape, sandpaper, and reflective materials just to name a few.
Duluth and Iron Range Depot Museum
Two Harbors, MN
This museum is a two-story brick building that was built in 1907 as the headquarters for the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad. Today the building houses the Depot Museum with exhibits on the historical importance of industry in Lake County such as iron mining, the railroad, lumber, and commercial fishing. Outside the building are two historic locomotives where you also have a great view of the harbor. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
Two Harbors Lighthouse
Two Harbors, MN
Built in 1892, this lighthouse is the oldest one still in continuous operation in Minnesota. The 49.6 foot (15m) tall red brick tower is open to the public for self guided tours with admission during operating hours. The Assistant Keeper’s house, Pilot house and Fog signal building are also open and houses historical exhibits. The Light Keepers dwelling is open year-round and operates as a bed and breakfast. An ample parking lot is available and access to the Breakwater Lighthouse.
Split Rock Lighthouse
Two Harbors, MN
The lighthouse was first lit in 1910 inside the 54 foot (16m) tall tower atop a lofty 130 foot (40m) sheer cliff over Lake Superior. You are able explore lighthouse on your own or take a guided tour led by guides in period clothing. Immerse yourself in the history with the exhibits, presentations, lightkeepers’ home and outbuildings. Climb the 32-step spiral staircase to the lantern room that still has the original turning lens and witness the highest view in the Park. Split Rock Lighthouse is one of the most photographed on the Circle Tour. You may have seen many photos, though there is nothing like experiencing it for yourself.
Cross River Heritage Center
This heritage center is within a Tudor building built in 1929 and was originally the Stickney Inn and Store. The former inn is still memorialized with a room that was restored to reflect a room in the inn during the 1930s. There is also the original stone fireplace and hardwood flooring. The center hosts three floors of historical exhibits, an art gallery, gift shop, and travel information. Learn about the local heritage, art and culture.
North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum
Experience the cultural landscape and the maritime way of life of the North Shore commercial fisherman and their families through professional exhibits at this museum. Learn about fishing techniques that were used, different fish species, and the sometimes treacherous conditions of Lake Superior for fishermen.
Cook County Historical Museum
Grand Marais, MN
This museum is inside the former lightkeepers’ home that was built in 1896. It is a modest museum the features changing exhibits. Learn about the local history, see exhibits about the military, music and art, maritime history and so much more.
Grand Portage National Monument
Grand Portage, MN
The park was originally established as of January 27, 1966 and is known for playing a huge role in the fur trade between a partnership with Grand Portage Ojibwe and the North West Company. Grand Portage National Monument features historical gardens, a look into their history through photos and archaeological research. Some of the main things to do in the park include visiting the heritage center, see the historic depot, become a Grand Portage junior ranger, picnic, hike, and visit some stunning waterfalls of the Pigeon River.
Founders’ Museum & Pioneer Village
Thunder Bay, ON
Experience the history as you explore this Northwestern Ontario Pioneer Village with twelve historical buildings set up with period furnishings and antique items. Visit the General Store, one room school, church, homes, blacksmith, newspaper office, antique cars and farmer equipment and so much more!
Thunder Bay Museum
Thunder Bay, ON
This museum is housed in what was formerly the three-story Fort William Police Station and Courthouse built in 1910. The first and third floor houses the permanent beautifully displayed exhibits that showcase the 10,000 years of rich heritage of Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario. The second-floor features local exhibits, traveling exhibits from other museums and the resident dinosaur Albert the Albertosaurus.
Northwestern Ontario Aviation Heritage Centre
Thunder Bay, ON
Learn about the region’s aviation history through photos, memorabilia, stories and exhibits. Explore the history of WWII airplane production at Canada Car & Foundry when they were contracted by the Royal Air Force to produce the Hawker Hurricane in Fort William. Learn about the history of bush planes in the region and commercial airlines and all that is aircraft related. This museum is the ideal place for the history and aviation enthusiast!
Alexander Henry Museum Ship
Thunder Bay, ON
The ship first launched in 1958 and served until 1985. It was named in honor of Alexander Henry, a fur trader who led expeditions to the Thunder Bay area in the early 1800s. Today you can tour this impressive icebreaker and learn about its rich history and of shipping in the Thunder Bay area and Lake Superior.
Thunder Bay Military Museum
Thunder Bay, ON
This museum preserves and displays the rich military history of Northwestern Ontario. Here you will find memorabilia, regalia, weaponry, and artifacts from the Navy, Army and Air Force with a knowledgeable staff.
Silver Islet General Store
Silver Islet, ON
The Silver Islet General Store was built in 1871 and has long been a staple and historical landmark of this mining community. It is the oldest business in Northwestern Ontario. Their living museum features items/artifacts from the original silver mine, the General Store, along with information panels detailing the history of each. See displays with original miners helmets with candles, mine supervisor log books, clothing, boots, books and journals from 1871-1910, and letters of correspondence between Alexander Sibley and the US mining company.
Silver Islet General Store is currently being restored and will soon open back up to serve visitors in summer 2021.
Dorion is home to one of the most notable natural attractions on the Lake Superior Circle Tour – Ouimet Canyon. When you visit the modest Dorion Museum you quickly learn not only about its history but of the sense of community and the people that make it so great.
Red Rock Interpretive Centre
Red Rock, ON
This interpretive centre features unique and interactive exhibits showcasing the rich history and ecosystems in the area. Included is a history about the prisoner of war camp and paper mill that once existed in Red Rock. Visitors can learn about the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area through a virtual underwater submarine tour and an interactive fish species smartboard.
Nipigon Historical Museum
A variety of exhibits showcase the history of the town and surrounding area at this museum. From fur trading to lumber to the railroad to the World Record Brook Trout caught out of the Nipigon River, you will find interesting displays about all that and more at this museum. You can also pick up the Historical Walk-Through Nipigon guidebook from here and take a self guided tour through the town’s historical buildings and landmarks.
Discover Geraldton Interpretive Centre
Situated in the heart of the municipality of Greenstone you will find this unique architecturally designed interpretive centre standing above Highway 11. The knowledgeable staff here can provide you helpful information about all the communities within Greenstone. Explore displays and exhibits that showcase the early days of the Hudson Bay Fur Traders, the gold boom and the firefighting legacy of Geraldton.
Rossport Caboose Museum
The Rossport Caboose Museum is within a re-furbished Canadian Pacific Rail car. It offers unique insights to the commercial fishing, mining and railway heritage of the North Shore. It is very accessible and special displays will be of interest to visitors, giving a glimpse into the history of the scenic community of Rossport.
Schreiber Discovery Centre & Railway Museum
Climb aboard this museum inside a refurbished 1953 train car and learn about this town’s history. Schreiber was founded in the 1880s as a railway construction camp so the train car museum it is quite fitting as a tribute to its history. Learn about the Canadian Pacific Railway through antiques, relics and documents. It is the ideal museum for the railway and history enthusiast.
Marathon District Museum
This museum has a collection of materials that illustrate the history, the people and the development of the town of Marathon. The exhibits focus on the pulp mill, Hemlo Gold mines, logging, ghost towns and local interests. It also showcases local stories and photographs related to the Group of Seven whose paintings have been inspired by the rugged coastline. The Group of Seven was a group of Canadian Landscape painters from 1920 to 1933. They believed that distinct art could be developed through direct contact with the incredible nature of the Canadian landscape and initiated the first major Canadian national art movement.
White River Heritage Museum
White River, ON
This museum features historical items related to the railroad including silver servers, railway speeder, track repair tools, telegraph systems and photos. There are also antique household appliances such as an old wringer washing machine, wood cooking stove and early kitchen display. Considering that White River is the hometown of Winnie the Pooh, there is no surprise that this museum houses an extensive collection of Winnie collectibles and items. A must see for any Winnie the Pooh fan.
Prince Township Museum
This museum is located in Prince Township, just northwest of Sault Ste Marie. The museum is a historical village experience consisting of five building structures. These buildings include Prince United Church, Conway Log House, a one-room classroom, Implement Shed and another shed of refurbished farm machinery.
Sault Ste. Marie Museum
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
This museum is inside a beautiful building that was constructed in 1906 as a post office. One of the most impressive features of the building architecturally is the clock tower that was installed in 1912. The building alone is worth a visit and the incredible collection of historical exhibits throughout the three floors will make you want to stay for hours exploring. The permanent collection includes, the Walter Wallace Military Gallery, the Skylight Gallery tells the story of the beginnings of Sault Ste Marie, the Discovering Gallery is the children’s area, the Russel H. Ramsay Sports Hall of Fame, and the Marine Gallery. There are often new featured galleries and exhibits throughout the year.
Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
This site was built between 1814 and 1823 by Charles Oakes Ermatinger when Sault Ste Marie was a small trading post, and it was the center for the business and social life in the district. Today it operates as a museum with many exhibits and interactive features, restored to illustrate the professional and personal life of Ermatinger and the prominent visitors to the house during the 1800s. Ermatinger Clergue was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1957 and behind the property stands a plaque that reads, “This house, built between 1814 and 1823 by Charles Ermatinger of the North West Company, is the oldest surviving house in northwestern Ontario. Constructed when Sault Ste Marie was still a small fur trading post on the Upper Lakes, this fine house soon became the center of the district’s business and social life, and was noted by such visitors as Lord Selkirk, Anna Jameson, Sir John Richardson, Paul Kane and George Catlin.”
Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre showcases displays about aviation and forest fire education. The displays allow visitors to have interactive, hands-on experiences and enjoy educational programs. The aviation section features Canada’s largest bush plane collection and highlights the advancement in water-bombing, a locally developed forest firefighting technique.
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Entomica is a science center found inside the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre that focuses on insects. Exhibited in beautiful vivariums, visitors can see a menagerie of exotic insects from all over the world. Discover the fascinating and sometimes misunderstood world of insects with interactive, hands on exhibits. Be amazed by the natural camouflage of leaf and insects, or the Giant African land snail, or even the New Guinea Land Lobster!
So there you have it, 84 museums all around Lake Superior. Why not add them all to your planned trip and discover them all during your Circle Tour.