Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A glimpse of the setting

The above video is from the Duluth Harbor Lift Bridge, and a giant ore carrier going through. This is the setting for The Bartered Bride, especially the final chapters where The Kennebrae Bethany is trying to enter the harbor in the teeth of the worst storm to hit Lake Superior since shipping began.

I love this video because along with seeing the size of the ship and the beauty of the bridge, you're able to hear the sounds of the harbor.

The seagulls, (Yes, Georgiana, they are everywhere.) I included too many in The Marriage Masquerade, and she dinged me on it. When I went back and looked, there were birds all over the pages! Yikes! Needless to say, I tempered the number of references to gulls.

The ship's horn and the answering blast from the bridge. Each ship gives one long blast and two short to the bridge, and the bridge answers with the same if all is well.

The bridge bell as it lowers. In 1905, there was no lift platform on the bridge. A gondola hung suspended and rolled across the water from one side to the other. But the superstructure of the bridge is the same as it was when the bridge was first built more than 100 years ago.

The people. In The Bartered Bride, quite a crowd gathers on the shore to pray and watch during the storm. (An event that actually occured in 1905. More than 10K Duluthians watched from the shore as the Mataafa and her crew floundered in the surf.)

One thing you can't hear over the sound of the people and the boat and the birds is the water. I love the restless sound of the water slapping the piers and scraping on the rocky shore. As a land-lubber Kansan turned Minnesotan, the water fascinates me. I could watch it for hours.

I love Duluth Harbor and watching the ships. There is a webcam on the Lake Superior Maritime Museum that allows you to check the harbor and watch ships coming into the canal live. You can find it by clicking HERE. My family and I have stood along the pier while other relatives check the webcam to see us.

It's a good idea to check the shipping schedule so you'll know approximately when a ship will be coming or going through the canal. You can follow the shipping schedule by clicking HERE.

I hope you enjoy it!


  1. Now it will be easier to imagine what the ship is like. The boat is so huge, it's a wonder it can float! Love the blasts from the boat and bridge. Reminds me of the tones from Close Encounters.

  2. Wow, there really are birds everywhere! LOL, about the feathered friends on the page ;)

  3. That would be really something to see a storm up there, from a really safe place, of course.

    One weekend we were up there it was so foggy we couldn't see past the hood of the van, so we stayed inside the motel all morning. Seemed like such a waste but we couldn't see to get anywhere else.

  4. When we were there in June (after Rebecca's wedding), we arrived just as a smaller cargo ship was leaving port. We stood right under the bridge, so when it began its descent, it gave every appearance of crushing us. Just at the last moment, we had Jonathan and Tom, Ann's brother-in-law, stretch up their arms and stop the great weight of the iron bridge deck. Well, okay, it hit the stops and was as far down as it would go, but we could reach up and touch it! Really lots of fun.

  5. What an amazing setting. I love getting lost in places like this that are so unfamiliar to me. Places that draw me in and make me long to go there.

  6. You're such a tease. We still haven't got the book, remember. Instant gratification? Ever heard of that. I'm prone to it, and teasing like this isn't nice!

  7. That is one big boat! I, too, love visiting the settings of my stories, to get the sounds, the feel of the air, observing the people. I know you will bring authenticity to the pages of your book because of your passion for setting.

  8. That was VERY COOL, Erica. Definitely brings The Bartered Bride to life. When I look at the size of that ship and its construction, I can understand how what happens to the Bethany happens. You did a good job of portraying this location.

  9. This is the kind of setting I would fight to capture with words. I am tongue tied just thinking about it.

    This is absolutely beautiful!

  10. oh, cool! to find a video like this will be very helpful to picture the book when i read it!

    Where Romance Meets Therapy

  11. Hi, Erica. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    What an amazing setting. It looks like you have a book coming out soon. Congratulations!! I'll be checking your blog and book out.


  12. CJ, Close Encounters? That's all I could think of when we visited Devil's Tower.

    G, it got to be so comic when I kept finding bird references in MM!

    Linda, I'd love to see a storm in Duluth, but yeah, curled up beside a fire with some hot chocolate.

  13. Kevin, I love those kinds of pictures. We have a silly one of James 'holding up' the lift bridge.

    Cindy, if you get a chance to visit Duluth, grab it. I love that place!

  14. Eileen, hee hee hee! I didn't mean to tease. I'm thinking of camping out on my front porch waiting for the UPS guy to show up!

    Carla, one of the things I loved the most was how dwarfed I felt by the size of the ships, and the vastness of the water that moved unceasingly.

  15. Rachel, YAY! I'm glad it translated well onto the page. :)

    Tamika, every time I go to Canal Park, I'm stunned and filled with awe. It's such a cool place.

    Hey, Jeannie, glad you liked the video.

    Heather, welcome to OTWP. My DD's name is Heather too!

  16. Hi Erica!

    What a great idea to post about some of the setting in your book! I'm storing that one away for a long off future post!

  17. Excellent setting! Thanks for the info!

  18. Jody, I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

    Hey, Katie, the week's half over! The weekend's coming.