Mystery Photo #59: Duluth Wau-Pse-Ke Club Cabin

What’s the deal with the Wau-Pse-Ke Club and its cabin? Though the stamp, and presumably the postmark with it, were torn off this old postcard, we know the cabin dates back at least to 1911 and was on the Lester River.

The back of the card doesn’t offer much for historical detail, but internet searches provide three old tidbits.

From the Journal of American Bankers Association and Bulletin of the American Institute of Banking, December 1911.

Duluth Chapter opened the social season with a cabin party Wednesday evening, November 15th. About forty of the boys took a Lester Park car soon after work and went to the end of the line. From there we walked up Lester river for nearly a mile. Trailing single file through the woods with the spruce and balsam, pyramids of snow with the falls of the river singing to the whispering of the wind in the pine trees — on a clear frosty night — it was some trip. As the trail wound along the rocky banks we would catch glimpses of the prettiest scenery in the world — a typical north shore stream tumbling through the Laurentian granite down hundreds of feet to old Lake Superior. It was a superb setting. Some of the boys said it was slippery and tried to fall in. When we were becoming somewhat cold the trail began to descend and we saw the “Wau Pse Ke” cabin nestling close beside the river, steep cliffs on either side, on a bench of water-worn gravel — it was prettier than a picture. And inside! Oh say!! The fire roaring in the fireplace certainly looked good to us. This cobblestone fireplace doesn’t smoke — it blazes. The cabin is built of unpeeled cedar logs and is finished appropriately with birch bark trimmings. Someone turned loose the phonograph and served sweet melodies of canned music.

From the Duluth Herald: Aug. 22, 1912:

Misses Lois and Edith Curtis entertained at a card party yesterday afternoon at the Wau-Pse-Ke club cabin on Lester river. In compliment to Miss Florence Bowden of Los Angeles, who is spending the summer in Duluth. The cabin was prettily decorated with evergreen boughs and sweet peas and Miss Bowden won both the guest and the card prizes.

From the Duluth Herald, Dec. 15, 1913:

A Christmas party is being planned by a group of girls to be given on Friday evening, Dec. 26, at the Wau Pse Ke club cabin on Lester river at which their guests will be the club members. There will be a Christmas tree and dinner party.

So, who can tell more about the Wau-Pse-Ke Club and it’s cabin? Did they both die out a hundred years ago?



about 12 months ago

According to the DNT in July, 1911, they had an annual banquet, and that year at the Commercial Club. Members present were Russell Holgate, Al Taylor, Harold Thomas, S. MacRea, Ernest Reefus, Curtis Pillsbury, Asher Taylor, James Kelly, Allan Greenfield, Julian Ritchie, Warren James, Ralph Coulkins, George Boden, Beverly Jones, Harold Williams, and Harold Coleman. 

Their first annual banquet was held in the same place in 1909. Harold Thomas was toastmaster. (He was a well-known sportsman in Duluth, hunter and diver.)

In other newspaper articles, like in 1912, the place was referred to as the "Boys' Cabin" or "Kennedy's cabin." One article alludes to the idea that Harold Thomas himself owned it. 

The members all appear to be folks who lived in Lakeside.


about 12 months ago

In 1907, I find an item mentioning that the Lakeside Young People's Club "have secured the Kennedy cabin on Lester River for a club house." Main aim is to snowshoe there and have hot suppers.


about 12 months ago

I also find a mention of Wau-Pse-Ke using Arthur Krieger's cabin on the Lester River. Krieger was married into the Fitger family, and made his money promoting the use of asbestos as insulation.


about 12 months ago

The "Kennedy cabin" was owned by Frank E. Kennedy and family. He was a Lakeside real estate developer.

Brian Kontio

about 12 months ago

There is a stone fireplace (presumably the last remains of a cabin) still standing on the east bank of the Lester River, near the golf course, downstream of the old concrete bridge.  Anyone know if this is from the cabin mentioned above?


about 12 months ago

It's so odd that you post this today, Paul. I acquired this postcard within the last month or so and scanned it only yesterday. I had no idea what the building was but remember as a kid coming across several burned out structures in the woods around Lester Park that had been victim to the Fire of 1918. Maybe that was its fate. The writing on the back is not English - I'm not sure what language it is - but the postmark is clearly 1910.


about 12 months ago

Here's the back.


about 12 months ago


I got some help with translation from a Swedish speaker on Reddit, u/shvean:

The hand writing is difficult to read, but this is what i understand. It's swedish.

Duluth 21, August,

"Jag kom hit lyckligt ok det blev nog ??? att ???" "I came here happily and it probably was ??? to ???"

"Idag har vi varit? ute hela dagen i kayaken?” "Today we've been out all day in the kayak"?

"Två gånger redan har vi varit i denna park som är på det här kortet, ok det var trevligt" "Two times already we have been in this park which is on this card, and it was nice"

"?hoppas? att ni har haft trevlig dag der hemma" "?hope? that you have had a nice day at home"

"Imorgon går vi på picknick" "Tomorrow we will have a picnic"

"Jag kommer snart hem till dig" "I will soon come home to you"

"farväl från m???a" "farewell from m???a"


about 12 months ago

HBH1 - Sounds like a typical postcard sent home, but it's nice to read that they enjoyed a couple days in Lester Park and on the Lester River. Thanks for this and all the other info you shared about this cabin!

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