Rocky Taconite welcomes you to the youngest town on the North Shore. Silver Bay was built from scratch by the Reserve Mining Company in 1951 to house workers for its new taconite processing plant, the first in North America.
While the mine near Babbitt once shipped more than five million tons of iron pellets down the Great Lakes each year, economic hard times shut it down indefinitely in 2009.
Sights and Recreation
The Visitor Information Center (218/226-3143, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–4 p.m. Sun. summer, Sat.–Sun. Sept.–Oct.), a half-mile up the hill on Outer Drive, has a small historical display. Just beyond it (follow the signs) is a scenic overlook with signs identifying the various taconite buildings and explaining the process.
Keep going from the scenic overlook and you’ll find yourself on the Twin Lakes Trail, a 6.8-mile loop with spectacular views over Bean and Bear Lakes. Be prepared for fairly serious climbing.
The Silver Bay Marina (218/226-3121, www.silverbay.com/marina, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. daily May–Oct., reduced hours after Labor Day) is a great place to stop and take a walk out over the rocky breakwater. Ask at the marina office for charter fishing recommendations.
Rooms at the Mariner Motel (46 Outer Dr., 218/226-4488, $55) are large and clean, and since the town itself isn’t much of a tourist destination, this is a good place to look for last-minute bookings.
Ten miles northeast of Silver Bay, the Baptism River Inn (6125 Co. Hwy. 1, 218/353-0707 or 877/353-0707, www.baptismriverinn.com, $86–189) bed-and-breakfast sits in 32 acres of forest on its rushing namesake. The energy-efficient log home has a bright mix of art and Northwoods decor, and each of the three guestrooms have private baths with large whirlpool tubs; two have balconies. After hiking or using their snowshoes you can relax in the sauna.
The Whispering Pines Motel (5763 Hwy. 61, 218/226-4712, www.whisperingpinesmotel.com, $65–165) is nothing fancy, but has plenty of charm and a great location. In addition to 15 motel rooms, there is one honeymoon cabin, removed from the rest of the sites by a little footbridge, and a suite that sleeps six and has its own fully-stocked kitchen.
© Tim Bewer from Moon Minnesota, 3rd Edition