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Historic Praise for Duluth


By the way, the first link above goes direct to the podcast audio file. The second link goes to my Blog, a separate issue.

Here's a link to the podcast posting for this episode: http://grizzly.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=333088

Barrett posted the text of Knott's famous remarks here a while back. Good times.

It's interesting, because Knott's ribbing aside, if you look at the growth of cities like Cleveland and Chicago in the mid-to-late 19th century, the notion Duluth's 1870s boosters had of the city becoming an enormous metropolis wasn't as ridiculous as it might seem in retrospect.

Ah, but here one doesn't have to spend the energy to read it. Mr.Grizzly does that for us.

True, and a lovely job he did... er, I did, he said humbly. Actually, I was struck with how much of the absurdity turned out to be true, just a bit time-shifted. If I'm not mistaken, the crash of 1873, only a couple of years later, was one of the several times the Northern Pacific railroad went broke. J.P. Morgan, a key person in the NP, was heavily invested in the Duluth area and when he went broke, the city of Duluth had to declare bankruptcy, and to resolve the bankruptcy the city was reduced to its component townships -- and the only part still called "Duluth" was a township consisting of what is now Canal Park. Not entirely sure, though -- I was kinda young at the time. ;-)

Grizz, good recap, but two minor details need adjusting: that was Jay Cooke, not J.P. Morgan (Morgan--at least his money--wouldn't arrive until later, with USS). Cooke's Lake Superior & Mississippi RR was the first in Duluth in 1869, and I believe soon absorbed by NP, which Cooke's bank had financed but he was not a partner in NP--Cooke's money either way.

I sit corrected -- I'd stand corrected, but I sprained my foot last week, and it's still all swole up. My comments were based on a vague memory of a book I read 30 years ago.

According to one recently-discovered source (an old stock certificate on sale on the web and attached info), J.P. Morgan was heavily involved, along with Cooke, in the Northern Pacific Railroad, one of the big coast-to-coast projects; one of the places he got the US Steel money, I'd guess. Jay Cooke was a major financial player in the NP, with JP Morgan. The NP leased, and eventually bought, the run from S.P. to Duluth -- they leased it the first year it was built, bought it the second.

I haven't found a recently-accessible source for NP involvement in the St. Croix road, but it smells like something they'd involve themselves in, and that's the way I recall it from the book from 30 years ago.

So I lean a bit to the side corrected, wincing slightly from the pain of the sprained and swollen foot.

So the city of Proctor is named after J. Proctor Knott, correct? So did Proctor do that just because this guy ripped on Duluth and killed this bill? Was this like step one in their ongoing envy of the city down the hill from them?

Well, Proctor was a railroad town--I assume it was a joke on the part of the railroad folks: "we built it anyway, nyah."

Proctor was originally a major railroad switchyard outside of Duluth, named "Proctorknott" by the railroad (I forget which one). The town that grew up around the yard ended up named "Proctor," kinda by default.

Duluth didn't lose in the railroad deal; it wasn't going to Duluth anyway, it was going to Bayfield WI. So Duluth lost nothing when it failed, and gained a lot of publicity from the speech.

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