Duluth’s story told by one of its greatest chroniclers

Tony Dierckins is among Duluth’s greatest resources. Few have given so much of their time and energy to telling the story of the city. As a small publisher, perhaps few have taken as many personal risks hoping the stories of Duluth will find their audiences.

Dozens, if not hundreds, of writing, English, and journalism majors have benefited from Tony’s work and his generous willingness to speak to their classes, to mentor them through internships, and to serve as an example of someone who makes a life in writing.

I went to the WorldCat catalog of library books to get a small sample of the many books he has brought to our community. These are just the ones from his press before it became Zenith.

So we should join the Minnesota Historical Society Press in celebrating him on Wednesday during a talk about his new bookDuluth: An Urban Biography.

Tony shares the fascinating stories of the “Zenith City of the Unsalted Seas”: Its significance as the final stop in the Ojibwe’s legendary westward migration. The cycle of booms and busts that shaped its early civic history. The natural port on St. Louis Bay that made shipping its first and most important business. The legends surrounding the digging of its ship canal, and the unique and iconic aerial bridge that spans it. The industries, industrialists, and immigrants that drove its commerce. The city’s boundless natural beauty, displayed through its unparalleled and expansive park system. The 1920 lynching of three African American circus workers. The 1977 Glensheen murders. Duluth’s contributions to popular culture — and popular culture’s long history of disparaging Duluth. And throughout the years, how Lake Superior and the St. Louis River have driven and sustained Duluth’s economy, offered its residents unlimited recreational opportunities, attracted tourists who flock to their shores — and created an east-west sociopolitical split that divides the city to this day.

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