Name Origin of Clough Island

Does anybody know who is the “Clough” behind the name of Clough Island?


Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

Great question. There is also a Clough Avenue in Superior, which is interrupted by the western end of the UW-Superior campus.

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

I thought Tim had it, but then PDD's Fairy Research Spy found this July 1, 1904 Duluth News Tribune clip identifying Solon S. Clough as the rightful namesake. 

Duluth man buys part of island An important deed was recorded at the register's office yesterday afternoon. Solon S. Clough transferred to Robert Whiteside of Duluth certain property on Clough Island for a consideration of $15,000. Clough Island is up the St. Louis River on the Wisconsin side. It is opposite Spirit islands and was named after Judge Clough, who originally owned it all. It is within the city limits and has been for some time a well known picnic ground. It is understood that Mr. Whiteside contemplates the erection on his new property of a magnificent summer home. He has already placed a number of men at work clearing up the brush.
By the way, Zenith City Online has a biography page for Robert B. Whiteside.

Barrett Chase

about 10 years ago

I'd like to know how to pronounce it. Does it rhyme with snow or does it rhyme with rough? Or is there a third option?


about 10 years ago

Third option would sound like cow, but I've always heard it as the snow version.


about 10 years ago

You should ask an old-timer Superiorite.


about 10 years ago

So that's why they also called it Whiteside Island when they were thinking about developing it.


about 10 years ago

News reports back when The Nature Conservancy bought the island pronounced it "Cluff." And the news is always right, right?


about 10 years ago

The courthouse personnel in Superior pronounce Clough like "rough." Or "tough."  Or "fluff."  Depending on what sort of justice you are seeking.


about 10 years ago

I was set to vote for it rhyming with "meow."


about 10 years ago

Judge Clough died in La Mesa, Calif., in 1910 at the age of 82. He was a pioneer of Superior, served eight years on the local circuit court bench starting circa 1870, serving three terms, thence on to Wis. state supreme court. J. C. Spooner was his law partner for a time (who became a U.S. Senator), as was Colonel Hiram Hayes. 

He left Superior in 1895, at which time he was president and director at the First National Bank of Superior, which he helped found. He owned a lot more than that island on the waterfront. One of his daughters married Irvine Lenroot (also a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin), who also nearly became vice president under Warren J. Harding (1920 -- he delayed his decision too long, and Calvin Coolidge supporters moved in, and since Harding died in office, Coolidge became prez). 

You can read about the Lenroot family here.

There has always been a lot of controversy about Clough Island. In recent times it was about ecology/preservation. But in times past, there were issues over it being Wisconsin territory despite the fact that it's so close to the Minnesota side. There was a court case about it in 1917 (mostly about who got the taxes for some docks that were debated), and Alfred Merritt told the court that "it was a well known tradition that George B. Stuntz of Superior was employed by the federal government to survey the boundary line he admitted that he rowed his canoe so as to get as much land for Wisconsin as possible." 

Circa 1897 there were plans to build an armor plate factory on the island. 

There's a booklet at the library by Claire Schumacher called "The Whiteside Island Story" -- though some local historians are skeptical of some of her stories. 

Robert Whiteside had a farm there that was 200 acres, growing oats, potatoes, peas and hay. There's also a story that after the family left the farm behind, they left this big white farm horse, who lived there by himself for some years, running free on the meadows.

E.P. Alexander had 10 acres on the property, and during Prohibition, there are rumors of bootlegging, prostitution and gambling. 

You can read about E.P. Alexander and his Killjoy Lodge here.


about 10 years ago

It's Clough -- rhymes with rough.


about 10 years ago

Awesome! This is all great!

Tony D.

about 10 years ago

That old E. P. Alexander was a character. He tried to claim Duluth's "Minnehaha Window" as his own back when the Duluth Public Library moved out of the Temple Opera Block simply because he owned the building.

Speaking of bootlegging, hbh1 wrote a fantastic feature story in this month's Zenith City about Prohibition in Duluth.

Robnoxious Smith

about 9 years ago

I wonder what native tribes in the area called this island. I think a better name would be "Big Spirit Island," to accompany Spirit Island just to the south, and better reflect the ancient heritage of this place.

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