Park Point Pirates

Hey Duluth history buffs! I heard a rumor that there were once pirates operating on Park Point, preying on ships in the harbor, and they were cleaned out in a big police raid. Does anybody know anything about this?


Tony D.

about 13 years ago

From True North, by Tony Dierckins and Kerry Elliot (X-Communication © 2001 & 2003):

The Pirates of Park Point Back in 1889, Minnesota Point—at the time, the village of Park Point—was not nearly as heavily populated as it is today. Few houses stood along the world's largest sand bar, and no roads had been built. It was mostly sand dunes and scrub pine, the perfect place to hide pirate booty. Park Point's pirates weren't your typical, cutlass-wielding-aaargh-exclaiming-peglegged-hook-handed-eye-patch-wearin'-parrot-totin' buccaneers of the Caribbean, and they hardly plundered ships for gold doubloons and pieces of eight. Duluth's pirates were a band of about six young men who apparently had an aversion to labor and turned to crime on the not-so-high seas to earn their keep. They dug themselves a cave on Park Point at a site close to 39th Street, near what in 1906 would become the Duluth Boat Club's Oatka Boat Club Branch. With open water on both sides, this was a strategic spot for their operation. While they hardly fit the stereotype, their style was not much different than traditional pirates. They plundered various vessels, sawmills, and warehouses. Apparently, the cave was a temporary lair, and the pirates' goal was to set up permanent housing on the point, as the lumber they stole was used to build a house. Much of that lumber was stolen from the mill of Duluthian R. A. Gray, and Gray had had enough. When Duluth's buccaneers tried to make off with more of his lumber one night, Gray decided to do something about it. He watched, then pursued the thieves. But the band of ne'er-do-wells had a large sailboat and managed to escape in the Lake Superior darkness. The patient Mr. Gray eventually found their cave—and his lumber, in use in the unfinished house—and captured the gang after a struggle that history books called a "fierce battle." The half-dozen or so thieves all ended up in the penitentiary.
This type of content and lots more will be searchable on the Zenith City History Archive at when we launch March 2012.


about 13 years ago

Thanks!  That's great!  I hope to use some of it in the Park Point Breeze.

Bad Cat!

about 13 years ago

Cool - I'd never heard that story before. Thanks for sharing!


about 13 years ago

@ Tony: I would hope you will officially announce the launch of on PDD as the date gets closer. 

Getting old and absent minded is tough - I usually write on my hand items I want to remember - bathing between now and March is a sure thing so I would love to see the announcement on PDD.

Tony D.

about 13 years ago

Heysme, will do!

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