History Posts

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.

Train Day at the Depot

Saturday was National Train Day. The Depot was hopping, and I loved it. Picture of a very cool train set below.

Harley Race proposed to third wife on a drive to Duluth

Season five, episode five, of the Vice-TV documentary series The Dark Side of the Ring delves into “The Life and Legends of Harley Race,” a world champion professional wrestler whose early career included a run in the Minneapolis-based American Wrestling Association. At the 13-minute mark in the episode, Race’s third wife, Evonna Hedbávný, tells the story of Race proposing marriage on a trip from Minneapolis to Duluth in the early 1960s.

Apparently, even the toughest guy in the rasslin’ business can’t resist the romance of Duluth.

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.

The Peoples Temple: A Unique Duluth Resource

My friend and colleague Elizabeth Nelson has donated some remarkable materials to the archives at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

The Elizabeth Nelson Peoples Temple Collection contains items relevant to the alternative religious organization founded by Jim Jones, best known for a mass suicide/murder in 1978 at its “Jonestown” settlement in Guyana.

DuluthiLeaks: Duluth Foghorn Facts

It’s been 100 years since Duluth’s original diaphone fog siren was installed at the Duluth Shipping Canal. That siren was decommissioned by the Coast Guard in 1968 and replaced by an electric whistle. In 1983 another old diaphone foghorn was acquired and installed. It was used on a ceremonial basis until 1995, then returned to regular service as a maritime aid to navigation. Community members immediately complained it was too loud. The controversy raged on until the horn was dismantled in 2006.

For the sixth edition of DuluthiLeaks — Perfect Duluth Day’s series in which public documents are presented as if they contain secret information leaked from an anonymous whistle blower — we present “Duluth Foghorn Facts,” a document and collection of images compiled by Jeffrey L. Laser of Bellville, Ohio. At some point after 1996, Laser put together the information below, delving into the nitty gritty of the diaphone foghorn that was housed in the Duluth South Breakwater Outer Light from 1983 to 2006.

Adas Israel: A Talk and a Book

During the Twin Ports Festival of History, my friend Phil Sher gave a speech about the history of the Lithuanian Jewish community in Duluth. Phil is the author of a recent book, Adas Israel, available on Amazon, that was a product of a unique partnership between the University of Minnesota Duluth and the community.

Fur Trade Nation: Linking Continents

One of Carl Gawboy’s earliest memories is seeing a muskrat skin hanging on the wall in his house. “My father trapped animals and sold them to a fur buyer,” Gawboy said. “That’s when my fascination with trapping began.” Decades later, that interest became the subject of Gawboy’s latest book, Fur Trade Nation: An Ojibwe’s Graphic History, published by Animikii Mazina’iganan: Thunderbird Press. The release date is April 30.

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.

Lozon’s Marine Bar and Grill

Tracey Clark, owner of the resale shop Tracey’s Treasures of Duluth, submitted this photo of an old beer glass she recently acquired. It raises two questions: Where and when could a person or mermaid find Lozon’s Marine Bar and Grill? The answer, according to Superior city directories, was at 3827 E. Second St. in the Allouez neighborhood. Today that spot is the parking lot of the Tipsy Beaver Bar.

Postcard from the Municipal Zoo at Fairmount Park

This undated postcard, published by Arrowhead Trading Post, shows scenes from the Duluth Zoo and Kingsbury Creek in Fairmount Park. The zoo’s name was changed in the 1980s to Lake Superior Zoo.

Video Archive: KBJR Northland’s NewsCenter 2004 Newscast

Through the advanced technology of consumer-level analog video we take a look back 20 years to KBJR-TV’s 10 p.m. news telecast from April 13, 2004.

Ripped at C.W. Chips Bar & Grill in 2004

[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve once again pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. Twenty years ago the Sultan of Sot paid a visit to C.W. Chips Bar & Grill and composed this article for the April 2004 issue of the Ripsaw magazine. At the time, there was a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of Duluth City Hall, which was moved to Canal Park later that year. C.W. Chips closed in early 2005 when the building was purchased by the Whole Foods Co-op.]

Because I’ve spent the past several years trolling the suckholes and boozehalls of this wreck of a city, because I’m cheaper than a Mexican proctology exam and because I like to control my own drunken experience, I like to drink at home. Preferably alone.

Tonight, however, my sometimes pal Ricky Flours is in town and we’ve pissed away enough time together in my cramped, dingy apartment to know that we need to remove ourselves from the sticky, bottle-filled dungeon I call Chez Goodbuzz. I’ve become a hermit, and Ricky is little more than a purring cat lying around on my floor. We don’t have to go to C.W. Chips, but we can’t stay here.

Abandoned Scrapbooks from circa 1939 to 1947

“Someone dropped a dozen scrapbooks with Duluth newspaper clippings on my front porch,” began the email from Tony Dierckins. “Would you like them?”

“No,” I said out loud to myself before replying to Tony with questions about what the scrapbooks might contain.

Big League Manager Baseball Game from West Duluth

To mark the start of the 2024 baseball season we take a look back at the Big League Manager Baseball Game, which was made in Duluth beginning, as near as can be determined, 70 years ago in 1954.

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