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History Posts

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.

Under the Bridge

First-North-and-Banks

I have always loved these buildings, but I never knew so much about them before.

Twohy and Osborn Blocks: Superior’s (Almost) Lost Mercantile Blocks

Steamer Columbia on St. Louis River near Fond du Lac

StLouisRiverSteamerColumbiaNearFondduLac

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeThis postcard, mailed in July 1914, depicts the steel excursion steamer Columbia cruising the St. Louis River. The best synopsis of the ol’ picnic cruise experience of yesteryear is perhaps the one on the back of the card, where “Aunt Carrie” writes to Miss Virginia Stanbridge of Westminster, Mass. If the message and penmanship seem a little too perfect, take a closer look. It’s a fill-in-the-blank card.

Duluth White Sox Team Photos

Duluth White Sox 1909

Happy start of baseball season to all. In a previous post on PDD it was speculated that photos of pitching great Hooks Dauss in a Duluth uniform are “seemingly nonexistent.” Well, there’s ol’ George wearing #4 in the 1909 team photo above. Search completed.

Dalles of the St. Louis River

Dalles of the St Louis River

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeThe illustration above is from William Cullen Bryant‘s classic book Picturesque America, published by D. Appleton & Company of New York in 1872 and 1874. Bryant was editor of the book; the illustration is by Alfred R. Waud.

Welcome to Our City (and the National Regatta of 1916)

Welcome to Our City 1916

Duluth Regatta 1916The song “Welcome to Our City” appeared in the magazine section of the April 2, 1916, Duluth News Tribune. It was written by two Duluthians — Donald Wade and D.J. Michaud — as a “contribution to the city’s welcome to the visiting oarsmen who will come to the Head of the Lakes next August.”

Duluth hosted the 44th annual regatta of the National Association of Amateur Oarsmen on Aug. 11 and 12, 1916, winning nine of the 12 events entered.

History Unearthed: The Du Luth Stone

Duluth RockA stone that bears the marking “Du Luth 1679” has been found in Pine County, one hour southwest of Duluth. A prominent geologist says the discovery could be one of the oldest carved artifacts ever found in Minnesota, potentially carved by the French explorer Daniel de Gresolon, the Sieur du Lhut.

Forensic geologist Scott Wolter, developer of archaeopetrography, a scientific process used to date the origins of stone artifacts, says the stone is “absolutely authentic.”

History texts indicate Gresolon landed his canoe on Minnesota Point on June 27, 1679, with the mission to meet with natives and persuade them to trade fur with the French instead of the British. Five days later he took possession, in the name of the King of France, of the Dakota territories at the village of Izatys, attaching the coat of arms of King Louis XIV to a tree on the shore of Mille Lacs Lake, just west of Pine County.