Historical Documents of the Vista Fleet

Old adverts for Vista excursion-boat tours of the harbor tell us something about why people would visit Duluth and take the boat tour — to see the ships from around the world. The lake and the city skyline mattered less than the almost cosmopolitan dimensions of the Vista experience.

Does anyone know when the Vista went from a primarily Superior base to a primarily Duluth one?

From Leisure, Travel & Mass Culture: The History of Tourism, a database that “provides an in-depth look at the evolution of British and American working class tourism from c.1850 to 1980.” These images are from the Anspach Travel Bureau Collection of Tourism Literature, 1936-2014 at the John W. Hartman Center, Duke University.  (Copyright of this material is retained by the content creators. John W. Hartman Center, Duke University does not claim to hold any copyrights to these materials.)

1 Comment


about 2 years ago

Based on what I recall and could find on the the Vista Fleet's history page, the Vista Fleet has always been primarily based out of Duluth, with the Superior dock being added as a pickup point in 1973. I worked on the Vista King in the late 1990s and we would start our cruises at the dock outside the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center at 9:30 a.m., head over for the first pickup at the Superior dock at 10:30, then back to Duluth at 11:30, etc. 

My guess is the brochure above was specifically printed for Superior-based businesses to display. Regarding the Barker's Island dock, I don't ever remember picking up more than 20 people at a time at that location (compared to well over 200 at a time in Duluth during peak season). Nevertheless, the Vista Fleet decided to build a new ticket office and gift shop on the island in 2004, which was shuttered along with all Barker's Island-related operations in 2009 during the recession (source: Zenith City Press).

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