This 1950’s-era postcard depicts American Fur Company’s trading post at Fond du Lac, now a neighborhood of Duluth. German-born John Jacob Astor founded the company over 200 years ago — precisely April 8, 1808. His post on the St. Louis River sought to capitalize on Ojibwe fur trappers in the area, but the Ojibwe preferred to trade with the French and British, so the venture was a bust in the beginning. After the War of 1812, the United States passed a law excluding foreign traders from operating on U.S. territory, which freed the American Fur Company from its biggest competitors. By 1830, Astor’s company dominated the U.S. fur trade.
Astor withdrew from American Fur Company in 1834. It split up and eventually fell into decline as silk hats became more fashionable than beaver pelts. The post at Fond du Lac ceased operation by 1847. Its ruins were removed at the turn of the 20th Century. The site is now a fairly unimpressive, but historically significant, city park. It bears the name Historical Park, though in the past it’s been known as J.J. Astor Park and Heritage Park.
In the 1930s a replica of the trading post was built farther upstream, in Chamber’s Grove Park, as a tourist attraction. That closed in 1968.
The postcard shown here is postmarked Dec. 31, 1952. On the back side “Miss Porter” writes to Gary Byce of Duluth:
Thank you so much for the candy. It was delicious and we enjoyed it much.
I hope you are having a wonderful vacation. I am.
Best wishes for a happy New Year.
Below are a few modern-day images of Historical Park.
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