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Duluth Milk Bottle Mystery

I was out on a walk with the dog yesterday evening on a country road north of Duluth, the same road I’ve walked literally hundreds of times the past few years.

Sometimes I wing rocks into the woods. When they hit ground it sounds like a small animal moving – and the dog rushes into the brush to see what’s there (should I feel guilty about misleading my dog?). I threw some rocks last night, and from the road I watched the path the dog took into the woods.

About 10 feet in, I saw what looked like a glass ring, and immediately thought it looked like the top of an old milk bottle. “It couldn’t be,” I thought – it was at the edge of a swamp, well away from any house, past or present. But I walked in, dug into the dirt and – sure enough – a mostly intact pint milk bottle emerged. Broken in half, but salvageable and with all the embossing intact (and no, my rocks didn’t break it – the split was well underground).

It reads “D.M.D.A. DULUTH, MINN.  - TO BE FILLED ONLY BY MEMBERS OF D.M.D.A.”

From Google searches, I found reference to a “Duluth Minnesota Dairy Association.” Does anyone know if that’s the correct translation of DMDA? Can anyone provide some more history about that business – dates of operation, in particular?

The bottle will be re-assembled and displayed above my kitchen sink.

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14 Comment(s)

  1. Somebody probably went for a walk with his (her) dog and a bottle of milk years ago. Instead of chucking rocks, they chucked the bottle. If only our litter today could bring smiles to the faces of future Duluthians. Somehow, I doubt that anyone will ever be terribly thrilled about picking up a vintage plastic bottle. (I don’t litter, except banana peels which my wife and I decided must be ok, along with apple cores and anything else that’s natural.) Anyway, cool find!

    By the way, no guilt for sending your dog on a wild goose chase. I’m sure he/she loved the excitement, unless you made him insane by forcing him to chase nonexistent animals.

    Ethan | Apr 28, 2010 | New Comment
  2. I found one on e-bay which says it’s from the early 1940s. But I haven’t found any information as to when the DMDA was in existence.

    Bret | Apr 28, 2010 | New Comment
  3. Tomasz | Apr 28, 2010 | New Comment
  4. At first I thought it read, D.V.D.A. Please tell me someone gets this joke, because I’m sure if I explained it this comment would get deleted.

    Danimal | Apr 28, 2010 | New Comment
  5. I found a similar embossed bottle in the woods, half pint, from Zenith City Dairy. Check the base, might help with date. Mine reads (rough) “T MFG CO” and “23″. Haven’t found anything about the dairy, but a little research revealed my bottle was made by Thatcher Manufacturing Company in 1923.

    pH | Apr 28, 2010 | New Comment
  6. I’ve found a few under my porch with other debris. My neighbor, who is in his 60s, remembers a dairy at the bottom of Mesaba. I’ll question him again about it.

    scott scheirbeck | Apr 29, 2010 | New Comment
  7. There was also a dairy at one time on the land that is now Hartley. Every once in a while folks find milk bottles in the woods there. I’m not sure if it would be related but could be another piece of the puzzle!

    nathan | Apr 29, 2010 | New Comment
  8. We live on the site of the old Anton Moe Dairy off of Kenwood. We still find old bottles all of the time. They’re usually broken though.

    http://bit.ly/cYoyct

    Taco | Apr 29, 2010 | New Comment
  9. DVDA…got it. And well played sir

    Zak | Apr 29, 2010 | New Comment
  10. DMDA Bottles are pretty common. Zenith bottles are to be desired. Duluth used to be called the Zenith City. Hartley was Woodland Dairy-nice old bowling pin shaped bottles!

    Julie | Jul 27, 2010 | New Comment
  11. DVDA is the name of the band started by the creators of “South Park.” It is also lewd, NSFW, and very funny.

    B-man | Jul 28, 2010 | New Comment
  12. The Dairy below Mesibi Ave, Duluth was (Foremost Dairy) 1110 West Michigan Street.

    It was huge and was just east of the M+H gas station. You can still see part of its foundation as you enter I35 South. Look just east M+H (about 1/2to 1 Blk.

    Rick | Nov 4, 2010 | New Comment
  13. Your bottle comes from the dairy which was owned and operated by the brothers of my grandfather. My father and his brother used to deliver those bottles direct to the home of the customers. Back then people had such things as a milkbox at the door for the milk man. I have found several of the original bottles as family memories.

    The dairy was sold to Bridgeman Dairy and the Singleton brothers retired.

    gsingleton | Jan 14, 2012 | New Comment
  14. In related news, Duluth apparently had 160 dairies in 1908.

    Paul Lundgren | May 10, 2012 | New Comment

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