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History Posts

Sky Room Restaurant Adjoining the Buena Vista Motel

Sky Room at Buena Vista

A panorama view from high atop Skyline Drive overlooking Duluth. The Buena Vista Motel and its lounge and restaurant opened in the 1950s. Bob Magie, Bob Nylen and Jerry Strum bought it in 1986 and oversaw a remodel in 1995. They operated the business for nearly 20 years before selling in 2005 to developer Tim Wiklund, who demolished the structure to create the 45-unit Superior Vista condominium complex.

A little old-school Homegrown music

JennyLindSingers

Homegrown uses music to bring the community together … and so I bring to you one of your homegrown forebears: Ann Colby Albright, who directed hundreds of Duluth ladies and gents back in the 1930s-1950s to sing it out!

Postcards from the many beauty spots on the St. Louis River

One of the many beauty spots on St. Louis River between Duluth-Superior Harbor and Fond du Lac

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeAs the One River, Many Stories project draws to a close, PDD presents the remaining St. Louis River postcards from the dusty digital archive. See the recommended links at the end of this post to check out more St. Louis River postcards.

Postcards from the Swinging Bridge at Jay Cooke State Park

Swinging Bridge Over St Louis River

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeThe text on the back of old-school Swinging Bridge postcards tends to read the same no matter what the image: “This unique Swing Bridge spans the St. Louis River in Jay Cooke State Park, 4,000 acres of rugged picturesque beauty along the rapids of the St. Louis River, extending from Carlton, Minn., to Fond du Lac, a suburb of Duluth.”

NorShor Theatre: A Look Inside Before the Restoration

Stripper-Stage-CSUSBTREET

Dan Turner spelunks the NorShor Theatre and Temple Opera Block in the latest feature on his Substreet website. From the projection room to the roof to the squatter’s apartment in the basement, it’s one of the last chances to see things as they were/are. Construction will be begin soon to renovate the NorShor, which will be operated by the Duluth Playhouse.

Projection-Booth-II-CSUSBTREET Rooftop-Cafe-CSUSBTREET Secret-Temple-Opera-Apartment-CSUSBTREET

Wing Young Huie on Immigration

Port Cities People

Found at a local antique shop for fifty cents: An issue of Lake Superior Port Cities magazine (now Lake Superior Magazine) with an article and photos by Wing Young Huie.

St. Louis River at Hudson’s Bay Company

St Louis River at Hudson Trading 1907

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeThis postcard, sent from Hibbing on Sept. 9, 1907, to Miss Hanna Backman of Ironwood, Mich., depicts, a “scene on the St. Louis River” in Duluth’s Fond du Lac neighborhood, “where the Hudson Bay Co. established a trading post about the year 1640.”

The Hudson’s Bay Company in general, however, wasn’t founded until 1670, so, as usual, take postcard caption information for what it is worth.

Walter Whitehead’s Last Fight

Whitehead_1_ZCPOne time, way back in 1909, two pugilists who’d been exchanging “hard words” around Duluth, tried to evade the law by conducting a prizefight on a scow in the middle of the St. Louis River. This is the story of regional boxing champion Walter Whitehead’s last fight.

Rumble on the River

From the PDD Archives: Help Wanted 2 Bucks

Help Wanted Two Bucks

Ten years ago today Starfire posted this handmade flier he found while walking his dog.

Video Archive: WrestleRock ’86

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1CRatikdWg

WrestleRock 86Thirty years ago today — April 20, 1986 — the American Wrestling Association held what may have been its largest show, WrestleRock, at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis. More than anything that happened on the mat, the event is most remembered for the gloriously cheesy promo video, “WrestleRock Rumble” which blatantly stole from the Chicago Bears’ “The Super Bowl Schuffle.”

Duluth Wrestle Rock connection: Central High School graduates Scott and Bill Irwin, wrestling as the Long Ryders, lost an AWA World Tag Team Championship match to Curt Hennig and “Big” Scott Hall. It would be the Long Ryders’ final match. Scott Irwin died from a brain tumor on Sept. 5, 1987.

One River, Two Islands

Clough Island photo by Richard Hamilton Smith

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeAs part of the One River, Many Stories project, Lake Superior Magazine’s April/May issue features Molly Hoeg’s profile of Clough and Spirit islands, titled “One River, Two Islands: A History & Culture Tour on the St. Louis River.”

From centuries-old bloody battles between Ojibwe and Dakota, to fist-fight riots at a resort in the late 1800s, through to modern-day habitat restoration, the history of the two islands is colorful and deep.

“Modern-day paddlers clearly feel this aura around Spirit Island just as they feel drawn to explore and enjoy Clough Island,” the story concludes. “Knowledge of both islands’ histories enriches any journey along the river. Cleaving its water with kayak or canoe, they paddle between two cultures, between the past and the future and between the heart of the forest at the river’s beginning and the vast expanse of the inland sea at its end.”

Alexander Miles: Barber, real estate investor, inventor

Alexander Miles - Hair DresserDuluthian Alexander Miles invented an improved mechanism for opening and closing elevator doors. It’s just one accomplishment of the man who was thought to be the wealthiest black man in the Midwest during the late 1800s. Read all about Miles on the Duluth Public Library’s Reference@Duluth blog. It’s the first new post on the blog in over two years, and it’s a doozy.

American Fur Trading Post at Fond du Lac, 1826

American Fur Trading Post at Fond du Lac 1826

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeThis 1950’s-era postcard depicts American Fur Company’s trading post at Fond du Lac, now a neighborhood of Duluth. German-born John Jacob Astor founded the company over 200 years ago — precisely April 8, 1808. His post on the St. Louis River sought to capitalize on Ojibwe fur trappers in the area, but the Ojibwe preferred to trade with the French and British, so the venture was a bust in the beginning. After the War of 1812, the United States passed a law excluding foreign traders from operating on U.S. territory, which freed the American Fur Company from its biggest competitors. By 1830, Astor’s company dominated the U.S. fur trade.

View on Spirit Lake, Vicinity Duluth and Superior

View on Spirit Lake 1907

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-Badge“Dear Ed and Edith,” begins the message on this postcard, mailed July 31, 1907. The penmenship gets funky in places, but the rest goes something like this: “Arrived here last night — fine trip up — leave in a few minutes for Minneapolis, where we remain until Saturday. Everything has been grand. Yes, even the weather. Trust you are full of ??? Lake like-?ess. We would be if we could get a ??? in it. Lovingly, ??? and ???”

Duluth/Superior Interstate Bridge: “We are all well”

We Are All Well 1906 Duluth Postcard

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgePostmarked 110 years ago today, this card traveled from Buffalo N.Y. to Mrs. W.J. Morrison of Lindsay, Ont.

The Interstate Bridge opened in 1897. At the time it was pretty much the only way to get back and forth between Duluth and Superior — other than by boat or swimming, or going the long way around by land, or maybe jumping a train across the Grassy Point Railroad Bridge.

In 1906, the steamer Troy knocked the draw span of the Interstate Bridge into St. Louis Bay. Ferry service connected the cities for two years until repairs were completed.