Two Rivers & Manitowoc, WI – July, 2016 Our next destination on the shores of Lake Michigan was Manitowoc and its close neighbor, Two Rivers. Our first stop after setting up at the RV park was the Point Beach State Park. The entrance fee we had to pay along with our campsite fee at the state park we had just departed was good at all Wisconsin state parks for the rest of the day. Otherwise we probably wouldn’t have visited Point Beach, but I’m glad we did.
The weather was blustery that day so we only walked along the beach briefly.
The Rawley Point Lighthouse is still very active so this is as close as you can get.
The lodge which now houses a store and nature center was built by the WPA, Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. As always the stonework was the highlight.
Next we took a walk downtown in Two Rivers marveling at the many beautiful buildings. We especially enjoy the number of stunning churches.
The next day was warm and sunny again and we were excited to get an early start. I was pleased to find that the Lincoln Park Zoo in Manitowoc was free and that it opened at 7am. Zoos are a fun place to take a walk but I have been disappointed in our travels at how expensive most zoos are. So I was not about to pass up a free one.
We arrived about 8am and had the whole place to ourselves for an hour. We only saw one other human, a zookeeper feeding the goats. The zoo was small, as was expected, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.
The way they had everything fenced often made it impossible to get a good shot of some animals. The cougar exhibit had a glass viewing area inside a fake log for the kids. I climbed inside and Jim coaxed this beauty to walk in front of the glass a few times. She (I’m guessing) wouldn’t give me the time of day when I spoke to her but she responded to Jim and followed him back and forth.
I spent 5 minutes trying to get a decent picture of the bald eagle. Between the fencing and the bird that kept turning his back to me, I got nothing. But I walked away to try and spy a red tailed hawk in the next exhibit and the eagle started showing off for Jim, shaking out his wings and practically posing for him. He was able to lean forward and get a shot with his phone that didn’t include the fence.
Our next stop was the highlight of our weekend. The Wisconsin Maritime Museum was $15 and well worth the cost. One major focus of the museum was on the role of submarines in WW2. Manitowoc shipyards were refitted to build subs at the time and they are understandably proud of the way they came through for the war effort.
The submarine crews would come here to pick up their sub, finish their training, and sail down the Mississippi to the ocean. One sub, the USS Cobia, has returned to its place of birth and is on display. A guided tour is included with your admission to the museum.
Below is one of two hatches that the sailors used to enter the sub. They were also the only means of escape. Up to 5 men were expected to climb in there together.
It makes me claustrophobic just thinking about it. They then had to flood the compartment, open the outer hatch, and make their way up a buoy line to the surface with this crude rebreather.
They had to close the hatch behind them so the next group could go. According to our guide this was only attempted once in two hundred feet of water. Remarkably several men did survive the escape.
Understandably much of the tour focused on the 20 some torpedoes on board. I was more impressed with the number of switches, valves, gauges, and buttons. Every man on the ship knew how to operate every gizmo.
The tour was incredibly informative. There are way too many fascinating facts to share here. You can look up much of the info online by googling USS Cobia.
The rest of the museum was equally interesting. They have many great exhibits including a huge room full of beautiful full-sized boats.
We were slightly disappointed that there was not more information on local shipwrecks. There is a new exhibit opening August 12th that appears to cover this deficiency. But what the museum did offer was so much more than we expected.
We visited another free attraction the next day. The Rahr-West Art Museum is housed in this beautiful mansion. We were mostly interested in the architecture but they did have some nice collections that added to the experience.
We enjoyed our visit to this area immensely and felt that it was a real sight-seeing bargain including our campground. We stayed at Stop-n-Dock in Two Rivers. It was a nice small campground in a great location on the river. We got a full hookup site for $21 per night using our Passport America membership.