Bathing in Fairmount Park’s Boys’ Pool


This old postcard was sent 100 years ago today. Someone named Mabelle mailed it to Mrs. W. F. Smith of Minong, Wis. It was postmarked in Duluth, Minn., July 16, 1910, 3 p.m.

I bought it in 2008 from Allouez Antiques in Superior during Nonchalant Jaunt VI. Here’s the message on the back:


Dear Rose,
Ha! Ha! How is the weather down there? Gertrude was over this Thurs. and we both want to go camping. Could you find out from Carrie if there is any place out by their place? Ask about that Henderickson place near them. We want to get out in the wilds.
Write soon.

Nice one-cent stamp.

The labeling on the postcard as “Bathing in Fremont Park” is apparently a mistake — it should be Fairmount Park, which later became home of the Fairmount Park Zoo, now the Lake Superior Zoo. (There is a Fremont Street nearby, but the park is named Fairmount.) This postcard came out at least 13 years before there was a zoo. Before the zoo there was an amusement park, but I have no idea if that was around in 1910.

Anyway, I’ve always thought I knew the spot where the postcard photo was taken, but when I went there yesterday to shoot a picture of it I discovered that it doesn’t quite look right.


So, what do you think? Am I at the wrong spot or have some of the rocks been moved over the course of a century?



about 9 years ago

Looks like the rocks have been moved. We used to go swimming there when my mom didn't want to drive alllllll the way to park point.


about 9 years ago

The large boulders on the left could have shifted over time, but the bedrock on the right where the kid is sitting should look the same. There is some similarity but it's hard to tell for sure. Maybe the angles are just slightly off. There's no middle bedrock visible in the postcard either. Maybe it's underwater and strewn with small boulders put in place to dam up the creek. I'd like to see larger-sized images.

Tony D.

about 9 years ago

The shot consists of all boys because at Fairmount Park (est. in the late 1890s; "Fremont" is a typo by the postcard printer--there was never a Fremont Park) certain days the boys got to go swimming, other days the girls. They didn't mix 'em up in part because many of the boys swam naked, which was considered very normal--no bathing suits back then. There is a similar postcard of boys swimming in the Lester, and some of those young gents pose sans drawers.

Paul, is the back "divided" or "undivided" (is there a vertical line on the back, separating the message from the addressee info?--that's a divided back). If undivided, card was made in Germany between 1901 and 1907; if divided, 1907 and 1915 (still made in Germany). While the postcard was printed between 1901 and the day it was mailed in 1910, the photo itself may have been taken at any time before that (after the advent of photography, of course!). There are Duluth postcards printed in 1908 of photographs taken in 1871.

Paul Lundgren

about 9 years ago

You can search Lake Superior Zoo and follow Kingsbury Creek, but the satellite view is kind of fuzzy.

Paul Lundgren

about 9 years ago

Mark, if you click on the pictures they should appear larger.

Tony, the back of the postcard is indeed divided, so it must have been printed between 1907 and 1910.


about 9 years ago

This is a very cool post. I dig this old stuff like this, especially when it shows off the old Duluth/Superior.

Does someone have a link to Google Maps as to this exact location, just out of curiosity? I can explore the area from the confines of my window-less office.

Tony D.

about 9 years ago

Richard, you can find about 500 of these vintage postcards (of Duluth, Superior, Iron Range, North Shore, South Shore, the Aposltes, Isle Royale, Great Lakes ships and ore boats) as well as historic information on each subject in "Zenith: A Postcard Perspective of Historic Duluth" at www.x-communication.org

Yes, this is a shameless, shameless self promotion.


about 9 years ago

Wow, does that bring back memories of my childhood. We used to call that the "Boys Pool." Kids used to jump off that rock on the left. Remember going up the road for apples, too.


about 9 years ago

I want to get out in the wilds.


about 9 years ago

I'm pretty sure some of those kids were photoshopped in.

Tony D.

about 9 years ago

Sherman: You never know! Many of those lithographic postcards were doctored in the coloring process, and mistakes were made (wrong color on buildings, sunsets behind north-facing subjects, etc.). The postcard I mentioned of boys bathing at Lester Park looks like they have added short ants to a couple of the lads. Some were "faked" on purpose: I have one of two "natives" attacking a bear on Superior St. & 2nd Ave E., and another of a buffalo chasing a cowboy down west 5th st.

Noelle Parker

about 9 years ago

My grandmother used to live next to Fairmount Park behind the zoo. My father showed me where they used to hang out and swim. That sure looks like the area.  My dad loved that area.  I loved hanging out there when I would go to my grandmothers.


about 9 years ago

It looks like your shot is facing upstream, and the postcard shot is facing downstream.


about 9 years ago

It looks like it could be the same spot to me, one hundred years of spring ice and water runoff and erosion can change things quite a bit. I have seen pics of other places that were compared to a pic from 100 years ago and they were more different than these.

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