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History Posts

Plant of Zenith Furnace Company at West Duluth

Zenith Furnace Company Duluth

Zenith Furnace Company was organized in 1902 and located on St. Louis Bay at 59th Avenue West. The company manufactured pig iron and byproducts of coal gas, ammonia and coal tar. In 1931 the company was acquired by Interlake Iron Corporation and was a source of steel during World War II for use in government defense equipment. It closed in 1962.

Bud Grant and the Superior Central Basketball Team

Bud Grant and

Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant grew up in Superior and played football, basketball and baseball at Superior Central High School. This photo recently showed up Reddit, posted by user “drunkinwisconsin.”

“A bartender’s dad in my hometown of Superior, WI went to school with Bud Grant,” the post reads. “Here is his senior basketball picture, #13.”

Union Made in the District of Duluth

Union Made - District of Duluth

Made-in-DuluthSome time around the year 1980, my parents acquired two giant four-drawer cabinets. Several decades went by before it was time to clean out the house and get rid of them. When one of them sold last month I pulled out a drawer and for the first time noticed the cabinets appear to have been built in Duluth. “United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, organized 1881, registered June 30, 1903,” reads the text on the ink stamp. “Union Made” in the “District of Duluth.”

I’m curious if anyone has seen anything like this or has any back story on who might have built them and when.

Official Map of the City of Duluth, 1889

map1899

From the days when Enger Park was Zenith Park, and Lester Chester Park was Glenwood Park (or is it Lenwood?).

Zenith Park Glenwood Park

Mystery Photo #35: Frank Lundgren and Joe Marceau

Frank Lundgren and Joe Marceau circa 1918

This mystery photo was sent by Ryan Sanders, a distant relative of the man at left in the photo above, Frank Lundgren. (Yours truly, Paul Lundgren, is no relation.) Standing next to Frank Lundgren is his brother-in-law Joe Marceau. The photo was shot somewhere in Duluth around 1918. The mystery we are looking to solve is where specifically the photo was shot.

Bob and Joan

Bob mentions a couple of Northland towns at the beginning of their first song.

Six old pictures of Duluth’s Cascade Park

Cascade Park in Duluth Minnesota View_of_Cascade Cascade Cascade_Park_ Cascade_Park Cascade Park circa 1908

Click any thumbnail to view the full images.

Where (and What) in Duluth?

IMG_0089

I have walked by this marker for years and the other day stopped to take a closer look, and a photo. Anyone know what it says and why it is here?

With a half hour spent on search engines I found this explanation.

Still doesn’t explain why the marker was placed there originally.

Duluth Waterfront by Knute Heldner

Duluth Waterfront - Knute Heldner

Knute HeldnerImpressionist painter Knute Heldner lived in Duluth for a good part of his career. The book Minnesota Prints and Printmakers, 1900-1945 dates his etching of Duluth’s Waterfront as “circa 1925.”

He was born in Sweden; differing accounts online put his birth year as 1875, 1877 and 1886. According to Hiro Fine Art he emigrated to Duluth in 1902 and “began working as a cobbler, miner, and lumberjack.” (Askart.com indicates he was a “lumber camp cook” and also notes he arrived in the United States “first in Boston” and later moved “to the Great Lakes region.”)

Sunshine Rock

Sunshine1ML

One of the more recognizable hunks of mineral matter in the Duluth area is Sunshine Rock. It’s located in Hermantown on Stebner Road between Morris Thomas and Hermantown roads.

There are two things about this rock I’m curious to know:

1) How long has “Sunshine 1ML” been painted on it? I’m certain that particular graffiti goes back at least 25 years.

2) What does “Sunshine 1ML” refer to? The rock happens to be sitting one mile outside of Duluth city limits, so maybe that has something to do with it, but it sits on the south side of Stebner facing northbound traffic, so it’s only noticed by cars heading out of Duluth. Is the insinuation that the sun only shines one mile outside Duluth?

Postcards from Cascade Park

Cascade-Park-Postcard-Duluth

Duluth’s Cascade Park still exists, but it’s nothing compared to what it used to be. In the late 1800s a sandstone pavilion and bell tower overlooked the city, with Clark House Creek running through it and down toward a pond and lush gardens. The bell tower was destroyed during a storm, and Mesaba Avenue eventually ate up part of the park, pushing the creek completely underground. These old postcards offer a look at what was once Duluth’s most extravagant park.

Onigamiinsing Dibaajimowinan — Duluth’s Stories Website

Picking Blueberries near Little Fork in 1937A recently launched website is offering an indigenous perspective on the history of Duluth and the surrounding area. Onigamiinsing Dibaajimowinan — Duluth’s Stories Website was created with the mission “to share the deep history and continuing presence of Native people within Duluth.” The site was created by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and grew out of an ethnographic study completed in 2012 for the Duluth Indigenous Commission. The study involved archaeology and history studied through documents and oral interviews. The study is available online in PDF form.

Aerial Bridge from end of Ship Canal

Aerial Bridge 1909 postcard

The message on the back of this postcard, mailed April 3, 1909, might require an interpreter — as often seems to be the case.

Video Archive: Mayor Bergson says he won’t seek re-election

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsJ16ji3d0g

This clip from KDLH-TV 3 is from 10 years ago — June 14, 2006 — the day Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson announced he would not seek re-election the following year in order to focus on solving the city’s unfunded retiree health-care liability without politics interfering. At the time, the city’s health-care debt was projected to reach $300 million by 2014.

In early 2007, Bergson hinted he might run again after all, then announced two months later that he wouldn’t, only to reverse course three months after that and file to run.

His opponents in the race were Charlie Bell, Meg Bye, Joanne Fay, Greg Gilbert, Todd Gremmels, Sunny Helbacka, Reiner Nelson, Don Ness, Jim Pratt, John Socha and Robert Wagner. Bell and Ness advanced to the General Election, with Ness ultimately replacing Bergson as mayor.

J.M. Gidding & Co. | Gidding’s Millinery Duluth

Knox Five and Dime Fire 10 June 1910After posting about Duluth, the City of Electric Lights, I of course wondered what the deal was with the Gidding’s building. A quick search of the internet produced the photo at left, which depicts the Knox Five and Dime fire of June 10, 1910, and shows the Gidding’s building at left.

A more thorough search pulled up a number of other tidbits:

J.M. Gidding & Co. opened in March of 1904, according to Millinery Trade Review. The magazine noted before the store was set to open that it would be “devoted to the sale of dry goods, millinery and women’s wearing apparel, which, in elegance of equipment and decoration, will surpass anything in that section of the country.” Clothier and Furnisher magazine also reported March 1904 as opening month for Gidding’s, noting the store would have “departments for clothing, furnishing goods, hats and shoes.”