History Posts

Mystery Photo #44: A Handsome Home


Next to nothing is known about this photo, other than the claim it was shot in Duluth. Does this handsome home still exist? Does anyone recognize it? Who are these people and what are they doing?

Duluth Works Steel Mill Presentation

trainworldussteelSammy Maida produced this documentary about U.S. Steel’s Duluth Works operation. Maida built a 20-by-6-foot model diorama of the mill that was on display at Saint George Serbian Orthodox Church in June.

Video Archive: Ted Nugent 1991 Backstage Interview in Duluth

damnyankeesPrior to the Feb. 27, 1991, Damn Yankees concert at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center Arena, KBJR-TV had a quick chat with Ted Nugent, Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw. In the clip, the “Motor City Madman” discusses his band’s mission to boost the morale of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia.

Mystery Photo #43: Does anyone know which old bar this was?


This picture was originally posted on the Duluthians of Zenith Facebook page. So far, the Pickwick and Spalding Hotel have been eliminated. The poster figures it must be a bar in the Duluth area because it’s stamped with a Duluth Photographers name on the back. Someone in the thread recommended posting it here because you guys know everything there is to know.

In case you’re looking …

norshor theater stripper stage

Mystery Photo #42: SS Columbia of Duluth


This postcard image bears the ink stamp of the Russell Photo Co. of Fond du Lac, Minn. on the back, along with a handwritten note: “The ‘Columbia’ of Duluth, Minn.” There have been numerous S.S. Columbia’s throughout the world, but this one seems likely to be the same as the one profiled on Zenith City Online, which was launched in 1885 as the Mascotte. There are numerous physical differences between the ship in the image shown there and the one shown here, but the article notes “in 1912 Duluth’s Clow & Nicholsen purchased the vessel, lengthened it by over thirty feet, and renamed it Columbia.” If they are the same SS Columbia, why do both images (presumably before and after the redesign of the ship) bear the name Columbia and neither Mascotte?

Mystery Photo #41: Family Portrait from the Zweifel Studio


Quick internet searches indicte either John or Joshua R. Zweifel was a Duluth-based photographer from the very late 1800s to the mid 1900s, with a few different offices on West Superior Street and in the Phoenix Building. Who are the round-faced darlings in the photo? Well, that’s the Hail Mary pass being thrown here for the hell of it, just to see if anyone can figure it out.

When Spirit Mountain had a pool


At some point in the early 1980s, Spirit Mountain did away with its swimming pool. It was probably a maintenance nightmare, and the notion of a pool on a hill overlooking the tributary to the world’s largest freshwater “pool” might be considered a little absurd in retrospect.

Trust me, though. It was fun while it lasted.

Iff you vill come to Duluth ve vill lock up all de cops


Similar to the “Vilkome to our city of Duluth” version, this is another “Dutch Kid” pennant postcard, popular from about 1900 to 1920. The same cards were produced for various cities across the country.

Keep Cool with Coolidge in Duluth


Boulevard Around Duluth, Minn.


It’s difficult to read the names on this postcard dated July 13, 1907, so the transcript will represent them with blanks.

____ and I are having a glorious time. Took a beautiful drive this a.m. and saw this very spot. Be good till we get home.

Duluth’s Apollo Connection

bob-gilruthAs a teenager in Duluth, Robert Rowe Gilruth built model airplanes. Three decades later he would be a key player in NASA’s plans to put a man on the moon.

An article in the February issue of Air & Space magazine details how “without Bob Gilruth, there would not have been a Mercury, a Gemini, or an Apollo program.”

Bob Gilruth, the Quiet Force Behind Apollo

Wolvin Building in Duluth, Minn.


The Wolvin Building was constructed as the general offices of the Pittsburgh Steamship Company in 1902. It is shown here as a six-story building, but in 1909 an additional three stories were added. It still stands today as a nine-story building at 227 W. First St., known since the 1970s as the Missabe Building.

Video Archive: Nesbitt Island on Pokegama Lake, 1978

Jay Freborg’s YouTube description:

In the mid-1970s the drinking age was 18 and friends built elaborate houseboats from whatever material they could find. Going out to “The Island” is what the typical high schooler tried to to do every weekend in the summer. It wasn’t uncommon to have 300-500 people under the age of 21 along the shores of Nesbitt. Over the years, Nesbitt Island’s sandbars and beaches have eroded but the memories have not. Thanks to Bernie Orhn for his forsight to shoot this 8MM film that I edited and put to music.

Fairyland Park near Marble, Minnesota


This undated postcard depicts “Alice in Wonderland,” one of more than 30 scenes from favorite fairytales at Fairyland, a roadside attraction that operated from 1948 to 1972 just west of the village of Marble, about 80 miles northwest of Duluth. Pretty much anything one might want to know about Fairyland can be found on a PDF compiled by Tim Wick, son of Melvin and Faith Wick, who bought the park in 1960.