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Category: History

Meet the Notorious Madam Gain »

Read an article on the Queen of Duluth’s Underworld, circa 1908.

Yoshikas Sauna Revisited »

On the Bumper to Bumper show on KFAN Radio, broadcast out of the Twin Cities and on the air in Duluth on KQDS AM 1490, host Dan Barreiro and his crew took on the subject of a new “cuddle business” opening near Sacramento, Calif. The subject turned to a “health club” called Yoshiko’s Sauna in Minneapolis that was in business during the 1990s. Later in the show they discovered an old post about Duluth’s Yoshikas Sauna on Perfect Duluth Day and … well … that’s the clip above.

Duluth Mystery Photo #6: Snowdrift Family »

This image seems timely considering recent weather in Duluth, but it’s actually from 1935. It’s an “Illustrated Current News” poster, published by the Marlin Co. The website is selling it for twenty bucks under the headline “1935 news poster: Duluth Minnesota snowstorm; Farnam family ice home.”

The caption on the poster reads something like: “The family of Clinton Farnam was completely isolated during a recent snowstorm … (then it gets hard to read) … they had to dig a tunnel from the doorway to the roadway, which (blurry again) … Photo shows family with friends just after they had evacuated themselves.”

So, this week’s mystery is less of a mystery than usual, but can anyone fill in the blurry parts of the caption and tell us more about Clinton Farnam, his family, and the snowstorm of 1935?

“I’ve been to Duluth” in The Great Outdoors »

Here is another Duluth-in-the-movies sighting. From the 1988 film The Great Outdoors, starring John Candy and Dan Aykroyd. This shirt is worn by the camp host at the beginning of the movie.

Duluth Mystery Photo #5: Baby Marge »

This photo is for sale on eBay under the heading “Vintage Snapshot Photo Babies Family on Rocks 1920s Duluth Minnesota #250.” The description reads: “Offered is a great vintage picture of a darling baby girl sitting on a pile of rocks with another child and a group of adults. Photo is from the 1920s. I bought these photos from a living estate, and baby’s name is Marge and lives in Duluth Minnesota. This picture was taken down by Lake Superior probably.”

There’s not much to go on here for pinpointing a location, but apparently we do have a baby name. So, who is this Marge?

Getting to the Bottom of the Proposed Polymet Mine, Part 1 »


I’m hoping that this video, featuring Paula Maccabee of Water Legacy, will be the first of several that I will be able to share over the next few weeks.

Duluth Mystery Photo #4: Mr. Dillner? »

I saved this photo at some point in the past and titled it “Dillner.” Call it sloppy archiving on my part, but I’m guessing that might be his last name and on the front of the photo is the photographer’s name, which looks like it’s maybe S. F. Dahlquist. The address is 19 E. Superior St., Duluth. So that’s what we’ve got to go on.

Martin Pattison »

Historical sketch from the Dec. 31, 1913, Duluth News Tribune.

The three-time mayor of Superior was the original owner of the Fairlawn Mansion, which was completed in 1891. Read about rumors of paranormal activity in the mansion at

Martin Pattison is also the namesake of Pattison State Park, which was established in 1920. Read about that on

Duluth Mystery Photo #3: 1938 Neighborhood Hockey Game »

It happened in Duluth in 1938. That’s all we know. What rink? Who are these kids?

Guy Lombardo in Duluth »

Did Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians ever perform in Duluth … and if so when?

Paul Robeson in Duluth »

What is Paul Robeson’s connection to Duluth? For some reason I’ve never wondered about this before. Today someone asked me.

Paul Robeson was a singer, actor and football player who was involved in the Civil Rights Movement. You can read about him on Wikipedia and numerous other places on the Internet.

The Paul Robeson Ballroom is part of the Kozy Apartments complex, which has been shuttered since 2010 due to three arson fires. (Photo above by Daniel Kerkhoff.)

There is a one-man show, The Tallest Tree in the Forest, running at Arena Stage in Washington D.C. through Feb. 16, that mentions Robeson was in Duluth in 1947. (The show is probably based, at least in part, on the 1977 documentary film The Tallest Tree in Our Forest.)

That’s all we’ve got. Help fill in the blanks.

Duluth Mystery Photo #2: Family Outing »

This photo is for sale on eBay under the headline “Vintage 1905 Cabinet Photo Duluth Minnesota Family Outing Woods Photograph 1052.” So what family is this? Where are they?

20th Anniversary of Chinese Lantern fire »

(Duluth News Tribune photo of Jan. 16, 1994, Chinese Lantern fire)

It’s the 20th anniversary of the fire that closed the old Chinese Lantern.

Fellowships for Historical Research »

PDD is host to a number of independent historical researchers. FYI.

The Minnesota Historical Society is pleased to announce the Legacy Research Fellowships. Eligibility for these Fellowships is open to any post-collegiate Minnesota scholar who is engaged in Minnesota-related research/scholarship that draws on the Gale Library resources and that intends to add to the body of knowledge and interpretation of Minnesota’s history (pre- and post-statehood). Independent Scholars and scholars, including graduate students, not eligible for funding through employment at academic institutions are especially encouraged to apply.

If there really was a lull in the flowing of the poppy juice, it did not occur until long after the hour set by law »

From the Jan. 1, 1914, Duluth News Tribune

Revelers laugh at law calling for early close

In two hotels the price brings liquid refreshment after hours with no questions asked and no evidence of police as delirium marks new year.

“Five dollars for a table and a bottle of wine,” the going quotation at Holland — “It’s after hours; can’t be served,” greeted with wild laughter.

Down on Raleigh Street »

Slideshow by Roger Nesje with music by Steve Johnson, paying tribute to old Two Street in West Duluth.

The attitude 100 years ago »

Just a cheesy Dutch Boy Paint greeting card from 1913. The company printed cards with various city names, so Duluth was nothing special. Folks were in for everything back then.

Where in Duluth? »

Elim Lutheran Church 1983 Directory »

Here it is in all its splendor, recovered from the More Than Memories Antique Emporium in West Duluth.

Connolly’s: Behind the Batter »

For the past few years around this time, the discussion on PDD has turned to Tom & Jerrys – where to find the fixins, if there are acceptable alternatives to Connolly’s, and the ups and downs for Connolly’s.

The PDD film crew got sweet and sticky with Steve Knauss and John Kurth as they began production on this year’s batch of Connolly’s Tom & Jerry batter.

Stay warm, stay frothy.