Postcard from Elmgren Motor Court on North Shore Drive

This postcard, published by the Curt Teich Co. of Chicago, shows the Elmgren Motor Court in the tiny hamlet of Clifton, just outside Duluth’s city limits on the North Shore of Lake Superior.

According to Cathy Wurzer’s 2008 book Tales of the Road: Highway 61, the lodging business was started by Victor Elmgren in 1929, and the family sold it in 1955. The Minnesota Family Group Sheet for the Victor Anselm Elmgren Family indicates he was born in Pori, Finland, in 1884 and died in Douglas, Az. in 1955. He married another Fin, Helga Lampinen, circa 1907. They had three children — Ralph, Sonny and Elsie.

Helga is presumably the “Grandma Elmgren” who “fried up trout dinners and sold them for a buck,” according to Wurzer’s book. And perhaps Vic and an old buddy are still hanging around as ghosts. Wurzer notes “the current owners say some guests have seen two men wearing robes, smoking cigars, and looking as if they’ve just come out of the sauna. On second glance, the men vanish.”

The place is now the Gardenwood Resort and has the address 5107 North Shore Drive.

The caption on the back of the postcard reads:

20 Clean, Completely Modern Cabins — Safe
Vented Heat — Private Showers — Quiet,
Clean and Comfortable — Hayfever Haven.
Moderate Rates
Away From Downtown High Rent Area.
Elmgren’s Motor Court
Rt. 6, Box 640 — Duluth, Minn.
Phone: Jackson 5-1738

There is another version of the postcard that refers to the place as “Elmgren’s Tourist Court.” This version has slightly different text on the back:

20 Clean, Completely Modern Cabins — Safe
Vented Heat — Private Showers — Quiet and Comfortable — Hayfever Haven.
Store — Ice Cream — Soft Drinks — Souvenirs
Gas and Oil — Information — Groceries
Elmgren’s Tourist Court
Rt. 6, Box 640 — Duluth, Minn.
Phone: Lakeside 26F1

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