Saturday, February 5, 2022

Underwater hotel in Two Harbors intrigues...

Written by By Jim Heffernan for The Duluth News Tribune on1-5-22

There’s talk up in Two Harbors about maybe, possibly, building an underwater hotel with an associated submarine. How exciting is that?


But first…due to the Internet, this column is sometimes read in other parts of the country, even world, where some readers might not know about quaint Two Harbors. By way of explanation, it is a small shipping, brewing, car sales and tourist hamlet -- to build, or not to build an underwater hotel; that is the question -- along the north shore of Lake Superior, a hop, skip and jump east of Duluth (seems like north, though).


As might be deduced, there are two harbors in Two Harbors, but they call them bays. There’s Agate Bay and Burlington Bay. Most of the shipping action is in Agate Bay, where the massive ore dock is, so the underwater hotel would go in Burlington Bay, they say.


Who says? Well, the mayor and a mysterious billionaire who is called Mr. O. Oh my goodness. We can only hope his last name is not Omicron.


Still, this is certainly an intriguing development even though some leaders in the hamlet are a bit skeptical. You can’t blame them. For one thing, how deep is Burlington Bay? That would determine how many stories the underwater hotel could be. Maybe they should build a single-story underwater motel with boat mooring outside the rooms. I don’t know.


Once years ago I was a traveling in Greece, up in the “mountains” (the Alps they ain’t) outside Athens, and stayed in a hotel built on the side of a mountain. You entered the lobby at street level, registered, and then took an elevator DOWN several stories to your room. Very exciting and I slept like a log.


I suppose that’s sort of how the Two Harbors Underwater Hotel (THUH) would have to operate, if the rooms were to be in the depths of Burlington Bay. There’s also mention of a submarine involved in some way giving rides to tourists. Fun. Hire Captain Nemo.


As a matter of interest (I certainly hope), here’s some esoteric local front submarine background: There was talk of a submarine in Lake Superior during World War II. In an early conspiracy theory, those nasty Nazis from Germany were out to stop America’s valuable shipping of Minnesota’s iron ore for the war effort, some of which passed through Two Harbors itself, as well as Duluth and Superior, of course.


The theory posited that the Germans were smuggling submarine parts overland through Canada to a remote area along Lake Superior and assembling an underwater vessel that would sneak down to the Head of the Lakes and torpedo our ore boats. Never happened, of course, but it would make a good movie.


I suppose the novelty of spending a night in an underwater hotel would appeal to many tourists. Far be it from me to throw a wet blanket on the idea of an underwater hotel, but they sure would have to be careful about leaks. (I’m not certain the term “wet blanket” is apt here. Sorry.)


Bathrooms used to be called “water closets” in polite company. This development could bring them back. In an underwater hotel all closets are water closets, in a manner of speaking.


Hotel room windows, of course, would front on Burlington Bay under water. What might visitors see? Well, big fish, I suppose. Coho salmon and the like swimming around worried about their next meal, maybe an occasional creature from the black lagoon or stray mermaid? Exciting.


I wish the developers well in spite of all this wising off about it. But we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for it to become a reality. (I’m not sure “hold our breath” is apt in ruminating about an underwater hotel, either.)


For the record, there are no black lagoon creatures or mermaids in Lake Superior, last time I checked.


The only cost figure floated — yes, floated — so far is $400 million. Would that be per night to stay there, and include a submarine ride? Inquiring minds want to know.


Jim Heffernan is a former Duluth News Tribune news and opinion writer and continues as a columnist. He can be reached at and maintains a blog at 

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