Park Point Questions

What is the longest freshwater sandbar in the world? Wikipedia’s Minnesota Point page says that Minnesota Point and Wisconsin Pont combined make the largest freshwater sandbar, and someone at UMD says Park Point alone is the longest. However, a Vista Fleet tour guide said that Minnesota Point was the second longest freshwater sandbar, and a Google search for “second longest freshwater sandbar” finds many references to Park Point.

I have read and heard several times that Park Point is the world’s longest sandbar. This is incorrect, as Farewell Spit in New Zealand is either 35 or 25 kilometers.

Also, how long is Park Point? The distance I hear most often is seven miles, which is the figure given on Wikipedia’s Minnesota Point page. I oftentimes hear six miles, and a quick measurement in Google Earth came up with six. Is the oft-repeated seven just a fish story, or have I measured incorrectly? (I started at the south side of the bridge.)

Finally, what is its name? I’ve always heard it called Park Point; I was shocked when the Vista Fleet tour guide called it Minnesota Point. One person on Wikipedia’s Talk Page for Park Point agrees with me, but two people-current and former Duluthians, one of whom lives on Minnesota Point-contend that Park Point is only the park at the end.

15 Comments

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

The answer to whether Minnesota Point is six or seven miles long comes down to whether you include Canal Park's shoreline, which adds about a half mile.

I'm not sure where the beginning of a sandbar is officially measured from, but the south side of the Aerial Lift Bridge seems like an artificial starting point.

Another thing to consider is whether to measure the raw length of the sandbar, or follow its shoreline, which curves at the end and has a long breakwater. 

edgeways

about 10 years ago

Perhaps this is the largest freshwater sandbar?

Don't have time to research it much more right now.

Barrett Chase

about 10 years ago

As for the name, I've always believed that the actual peninsula was Minnesota Point and that the neighborhood/community was Park Point.

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

I would say Barrett's right. Park Point is a neighborhood, not just a park. Minnesota Point is the peninsula that includes Canal Park and Park Point.

Jim M

about 10 years ago

Technically, Park Point is not a sandbar, but a spit.

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

A spit is a type of sandbar, so I don't think it's incorrect to refer to Park Point as a sandbar, it's just imprecise.

Lithis

about 10 years ago

If Park Point is a spit, then why is Dungeness Spit, at 5½ miles, the longest natural sand spit in the country?

Lithis

about 10 years ago

The West Lake formation at Sandbanks — mentioned by Edgeways — is only about five miles long, but that doesn't stop people from calling it the largest freshwater sandbar in the world. It does sound impressive, though—dunes up to six stories high.

(Perhaps Sandbanks's sandbar contains more sand by volume than Park Point, but the second page I linked to says that its length is what makes it the largest.)

Tony D.

about 10 years ago

Minnesota Point starts at the base -- the railroad is a good spot to mark the start. Park Point is a community on Minnesota Point starting south of the Canal, originally called Middleton, and did not go the length of the point, as Ojibwe traditionally spent summers there. Canal Park "proper" is actually the two strips of land on either side of the canal, owned by the Feds. (The aerial bridge is technically a city-owned structure on Federal property). The rest of the land north of the Canal, which we all call Canal Park, is now technically the Canal Park Business District, and is considered part of downtown. It was for a long time made up of two major plats: Cowell's Addition and Industrial Addition, which for some time included (on the "beach" side) "No Man's Land," later referred to as "Finn Town" (an area later used for public dumping of cars and major appliances). Much of the land was originally (as far as European settlement goes) owned by Sidney Luce and J. B. Culver (our first two mayors).

And if you want to get real technical, once the Ispheming finished cutting the canal (Saturday, April 29, 1871, all by itself with very little hand digging), the southern half of Minnesota Point has been an island.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not sure if the definition of "spit" is appropriate for MN & WI Points, since the way I read it, it seems to imply only coastal residue involving longshore drift causes spits. Our points are formed from two phenomena: The St. Louis and Nemadji (or Left Handed) Rivers depositing silt at the head of the lake and the natural clockwise rotation of Lake Superior carrying silt from the South Shore and tucking it into the corner of the lake; they meet at one spot, and the silt builds on either side to form the sand bar. (Maybe that is the definition of spit and I read it wrong?) The Superior Outlet, which separates the two, was where the Nemadji emptied, and the opening naturally "relocated" north and south for a long while (MN Point Light was originally very close to the entry and is now 1/4- to 1/2-mile away -- and the building didn't go anywhere). Dredging and harbor improvements in the 1890s included the concrete piers and made it stable. 

Boy, someone should write all this down in a book!

SD-M

about 10 years ago

I always (always as in I've lived here, like, two years) heard that Minnesota Point is the worlds longest NATURAL sandbar, which made me speculate that there must be a longer man made sandbar somewhere.  If I had to take a guess it's part of that giant palm tree shaped land mass creation thing in Dubai.  Clearly I've been mulling this one over far too hard.

Lithis

about 10 years ago

Awesome, Tony. Thanks!

Does anyone know where Park Point ends? Is Sky Harbor Airport in Park Point? I checked some of the city's planning and precinct maps, but they indicated that all of the point was Park Point.

In a less-related vein, I recently noticed that there are a couple of Duluth piers that end in Wisconsin. One is south of Raleigh Street at the end of S. 59th Avenue W. The other is Spirit Lake Marina at the end of Spring Street in Riverside. These can be best seen on the zoning types map. Someone should build a liquor store at the end of S. 59th Avenue W.

Eric

about 10 years ago

SD-M, as Lithis noted earlier, neither Minnesota Point nor the combination of Minnesota and Wisconsin Points are the longest sandbar in the world.  There are dozens if not hundreds of sand bars located in saltwater environments around the world that are much, much longer.

I'm the guy responsible for the Vista tour narration's statement that Minnesota Point is the world's second longest freshwater sand bar / baymouth sand bar / etc.  When I did the research behind that statement almost a decade ago I was studying geography and geology at the Main U and had a lot of knowledge relevant to the topic fresh in my head; much of that has faded today.  I believe I did a decently extensive search and could only find one freshwater bar longer than Minnesota Point.  I vaguely recall that the 'longest' honor went to a freshwater baymouth bar somewhere in Russia or perhaps the former USSR, however a half-hour deployment of google has yielded no good leads so far.

Eric

about 10 years ago

I left out the word 'natural' in the first paragraph in that last post.  As Lithis said, there are many -natural- bars longer than MN Point or the MN-WI Points complex.

W.T.F

about 10 years ago

As mentioned above it is a spit not a sandbar.

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