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History Posts

Postcards from the Viking Motel

The Viking Motel operated at 2511 London Road from 1961 to 2000, and was demolished in 2001. The two-story, 30-room motel overlooking Lake Superior listed these amenities on its postcard: “Room Phones. Free Color TV. Coffee. Air Conditioned. Bridal Suites. Water Beds.”

Vintage photo: Aerial Lift Bridge under construction

Circa 1905. Photographer unknown.

Video Archive: 2007 Fire at True North Cedar on Duluth Harbor

At around 8 a.m. on June 22, 2007, a fire started in a waste conveyor machine at True North Cedar‘s manufacturing building on the Duluth Harbor. Employees attempted to fight the fire, but it was fed by sawdust and spread quickly. The warehouse, several boats and various equipment was quickly consumed in a huge smokey blaze.

Firefighters arrived at 8:17 a.m., but were unable to get hoses going until 8:50. It took a little more than an hour to put the fire out once water was available.

Postcards from Duluth’s Incline Railway

The Incline Plane Railway, a tram system operated by the Duluth Street Railway Company, began service in 1891. It carried passengers from a housing development at the top of the hillside into the downtown along Seventh Avenue West.

Antique photos: Denfeld High School under construction

Jay Sonnenburg found this photo in his grandfather’s collection. It shows Denfeld High School under construction on the lower edge, which puts the year of the image around 1926. The groundbreaking ceremony for the building was held March 6, 1925; it opened for classes on Sept. 8, 1926.

The Ballad of Clayton, Jackson and McGhie

Local musician Bill Nash produced this music video in May, recalling the June 15, 1920 lynching of Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie.

Brew North: A Beer Story

WDSE-TV‘s recent documentary on the brewing history of northern Minnesota can now be viewed online … right here. Brew North: A Beer Story explores the many ways beer established a niche in the Duluth area and continues to leave its mark on the region.

Video Archive: Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad

This weekend (tentatively) the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad begins its 37th season of running 90-minute tours along the St. Louis River. This historical documentary was produced in 1983.

Fact Check: Matilda attacks Jimmy Hart’s Megaphone in Duluth

Prior to a Heavy on Wrestling card in Duluth this past weekend, “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart sat down for an interview on Fox 21. At the very outset he launched into an anecdote that seems to imply a tag team he managed, the Hart Foundation, wrestled the British Bulldogs in Duluth in the 1980s.

In the dressing room before the match, so the story goes, a dog named Matilda, the literal bulldog that accompanied the two wrestler “Bulldogs” to the ring, became agitated by Hart’s megaphone and unexpectedly attacked it. The summation of the story is that the surprise attack by Matilda in Duluth inspired planned antics by Hart at Wrestlemania III, the famous wrestling card that attracted 93,173 people to the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich., considered at the time to be the largest audience for a live indoor event in North America.

Select Images from the 1967 Denfeld Oracle

With the Denfeld High School class of 2017 poised to receive diplomas tonight, we set the Wayback Machine for a glimpse of what the Hunter lifestyle was like five decades ago. The good boys and girls of the Denfeld class of ’67, by the way, will gather Sept. 15-17 for their 50-year reunion.

Video Archive: Benaszeski Brothers Polka Band in 1983

Time for yet another classic from the collection of the late Emil Praslowicz, digitized by his grandson, Kip Praslowicz. In this edition a dance frenzy ensues at Chet & Emil’s in Birnamwood, Wis. as the Benaszeski Brothers bring the rock-infused polka action.

Gleanings from the book of Eli

In honor of a decade+ of writing for the Duluth Budgeteer — gone forever — I wanted to share this piece. At just 45 miles from Duluth, the Wirtanen Pioneer Farm is a swell destination to add to your summer bucket list. A quiet place, with little programming, it’s the sort of environment that might bore some of you. If you have ears to hear, however, there is much to be heard. We can learn a lot from the work ethic of pioneers like Eli. I jotted down some thoughts at Ed’s Big Adventure, and am curious about yours.

Postcard from Alpert’s Motel on Scenic Highway 61

Alpert’s Motel was located “13 miles from Downtown Duluth on North Shore Drive. Scenic Highway 61 on Lake Superior Circle Route.” The back of the postcard shown here indicates the motel offered “all the modern conveniences for your comfort, spacious grounds and beautiful view of Lake Superior.”

Joe and Mary Beth Alpert moved from Duluth to the French River area in 1952 to build the motel. They managed it until 1976. Joe died in 2004; Mary Beth in 2012. The motel was auctioned off in 1992.

Standing Alone

Duluth filmmaker/musician/artist Ariane Norrgard just premiered this at the Zinema. It is about Anishinaabe elder, Jim Merhar, of Coleraine Minnesota, who once rocked both the Armory and the Opry.

Duluthian Phillip Merritt and the Manhattan Project

A new posting at the Vintage Duluth / Duluth Public Library blog (formerly Reference @ Duluth) is about “Duluthian Phillip Merritt and the Manhattan Project.”