Paul Lundgren Posts

Duluth Brand Parodies: Derogatory Wordplay in Dull-youth

It probably happens everywhere just as much as it happens in Duluth. Someone intentionally replaces the name of a well-known person, place or thing with a similar sounding word or words, almost always in a belittling way, and other people think it’s funny and repeat it.

There should be a list of those, right? Well, here it is.

Garbage, Dog Turds and Polyethylene Owls

When I’m out walking and I see a plastic bag stuck in a tree, I always point it out to anyone who might be around and say, “Hey look, a West Duluth owl.” It’s a stupid joke that doesn’t get much of a reaction, but hey, so am I.

Making cheesy remarks might be the best action in that situation. There’s a clump of ugly garbage stuck in a beautiful tree, and my options for how to deal with it are to climb the tree or use a long device of some kind to somehow remove the bag, ignore the situation altogether, or pretend like I wanted that bag to be there all along to support the comedy of life.

I have similar statements I repeat all the time. If my childhood friend is telling me about her cancer diagnosis, for example, I’ll say, “I told you not to go swimming downstream of the steel plant.”

The tragedy behind the comedy boils down to something pretty simple: I want a clean environment, but I know that’s unrealistic. It’s also confusing, because a clean environment contains a lot of dirt. And seriously, a clean planet and a polluted planet are made up of the same things; the difference is how those things are arranged.

Greetings from Duluth

This undated postcard, published by Cartwheel Company of St. Paul, shows five images of Duluth circa perhaps the early 1980s.

Mystery Photo: Miss Norton

No fewer than five pennants hang on the wall in the photo on this undated postcard. Three are illegible, but one clearly indicates someone is a fan of Duluth. Another pennant represents the Withee Farmers Market of either 1912 or 1913. Withee is a village in Wisconsin, about 140 southeast of Duluth.

Postcard from the St. Louis County Courthouse in 1924

This postcard was mailed June 1, 1924 — 100 years ago today. It shows the St. Louis County Courthouse in Downtown Duluth, which opened in 1909.

Postcards from Passage Island Lighthouse at Isle Royale

This undated postcard, published by the E.C. Kropp Company, shows Passage Island Lighthouse and the rugged shore at Isle Royale on Lake Superior.

Homegrown Music Festival 2024 Photo Slideshow

This year was the third in row that I lugged my heavy camera around during the Homegrown Music Festival and attempted to be a photographer. Above are the 86 best photos I could muster.

WDSM 10 p.m. News Final: Walt Jensen and Don Wright

This 1964 newspaper clipping, for sale on eBay, shows Duluth television newscasters Walt Jensen and Don Wright at the WDSM-TV anchor desk.

WDSM was Duluth’s first VHF television station, launching in black and white on March 1, 1954. Color broadcasts started in 1965. In 1974 the call letters were changed to KBJR.

Selective Focus: Homegrown 2024 (The Weekend)

Select images via Instagram from the final three days of the Homegrown Music Festival.

Mystery Photo: Little Rufus Milne in 1894

This cabinet card photo is marked “Rec’d May 5, 1894.” It’s not entirely clear what received might specifically refer to here, but with some confidence we can say this photo is at least 130 years old and someone received it precisely 130 years ago.

Selective Focus: Homegrown 2024 (The First Five Days)

Select images via Instagram from the first five days of the Homegrown Music Festival.

Homegrown Music Festival 2024 Primer

Every year the Homegrown Music Festival publishes a Field Guide with all the intricate details of the eight-day extravaganza. And every year Perfect Duluth Day kicks out a little rundown of updates, sidebar details and notes about peripheral, unsanctioned or otherwise-related items of interest at party time. This year there is just one official schedule change (so far), but plenty of sidebar updates.

Postcard from Superior Street at 15th Avenue West

This undated postcard, published by Odin Ebbesen, shows Superior Street in Duluth’s Lincoln Park neighborhood long before the neighborhood was called Lincoln Park. The church at right is, presumably, the Second Presbyterian Church of Duluth, according to text in an appendix of surveyed properties in the city of Duluth’s Historic Resources Inventory for the Lincoln Park Neighborhood.


Duluth’s NorShor Theatre is a bit of a copyeditor’s headache. People often misspell NorShor as “NorShore” or they fail to render the S as a capital letter. And since its proper name uses the British version of “theatre” and Americans prefer “theater,” we end up with numerous ways to screw up two words.

Apparently NorShor was being spelled wrong right from the start — or “NorShore” might have even been what was planned for the original spelling before someone decided to shorten it up — because an old sketch of the building, shown above, includes an E that never made it to the building’s tower or marquee.

North Country Trail in Wisconsin: Backtracking

Seven years ago I began a quest to hike the North Country Trail across Wisconsin. Similar to my 20-year process of completing the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota, things are going slowly on the Sconnie side as well. In 2022 I completed just nine miles.

Despite my established reputation for tortoise-like hiking, I was determined to have a big year in 2023. Then I got busy with other things and ended up with exactly zero miles of NCT hiked that year.

I’ve already got one 2024 trek under my boots, but it kind of doesn’t count in terms of mileage. Which is why this chapter is titled “Backtracking.”

My only hike in 2022 began off Highway 53 on Holly Lucius Road, just south of Solon Springs. The previous chapter of my essay series concluded with a mistaken stroll on Highway 53, so I started my next hike by covering the path I should have taken at the end of my hike the year before. It wasn’t really backtracking, because I hadn’t walked this route yet, but it was a pause in my progression since it meant I would be arriving at Lucius Woods County Park for the second time.