History Posts

Media Excavations: KDAL and WEBC

Briefly, Duluth-Superior radio stations KDAL and WEBC advertised together. I found these joint ads while scouring a database of media trade publications.

Media Excavations: WEBC

I’ve been excavating media magazines for references to Duluth. Some of them are adverts for WEBC 560 AM, which is presently branded at “Northland Fan” and broadcasts Duluth-area sports interspersed with statewide sports talk from KFAN in Minneapolis and national sports talk from FOX Sports Radio.

Duluth Central High School 1920 Zenith Yearbook

Archive.org has the 1920 Duluth Central High School yearbook, Zenith, available for perusal online.

Select Images from the 1941 Denfeld Oracle

The Internet Archive hosts the 1941 edition of the Denfeld Oracle. My friends’ grandparents — those are the folks I am looking for in here, I think. And a nod to “then and now.”

Postcard from West Superior Street at Sixth Avenue East

Among the legible signs in this undated postcard: Hill Hotel, Hamm’s Beep, bus station, Holland Hotel, Lyceum Theatre, Spalding Hotel, Saratoga Hotel, Hotel Tavern, Dove Clothing Store.

Standard Salt and Cement Company

The most amazing thing new Duluth residents don’t realize is what Canal Park looked like just 40 years ago.

Archive.org includes a catalog for Standard Salt and Cement Company, a business that used to be located in Canal Park.

A Psychogeographical Map of Duluth, 2004

I drew this conceptual map of Duluth’s arts-and-music-scene in 2004, then filed it away for 18 years. The details may only interest old-school scenester hipsters, but the broad strokes reflect my thinking on what makes Duluth cool, and the nature of scenes as social units. The word “psychogeographical” refers here to the artistic arrangement of my little sociological analysis.

Local rocker Nat Harvie once observed to me that old-school Duluthians gush about these bygone days with little provocation. True. I moved to Duluth in 1998 in what is widely regarded as its heyday, its coming-to-awareness-of-itself as a music-and-arts scene. This can be roughly correlated with the formation of the Ripsaw News, now long defunct. That storied rag began in opposition to the Reader as the premier alternative newsweekly and we were off to the races. I remember an early Ripsaw meeting with Brad Nelson and Cord Dada and a room of creatives, and the question was, “Who can do what?” I said, “I am a writer and cartoonist,” and I was in.

Duluth had everything I wanted in its vital percolations. I graphed the scene as I saw it, below:

NorShor Theatre in Movie Trade Magazines

Movie trade publications loved the NorShor Theatre and its milk bar. These features on the NorShor were taken from the Media History Digital Library.

Patrick-Duluth way up in the snow

I saw a ship a-sailing
From old Duluth one day,
And oh! it was all laden
With coats for boys, they say!

Summer Trips to the Northwest through Duluth, 1911

The Internet Archive hosts advertisements from transportation-themed magazines. This one features Duluth as the endpoint on a steamer trip to the Northwest, before joining the train to Seattle and points nearby in Canada and Oregon.

Steamships from Buffalo to Duluth, 1901

This advert from Life magazine promotes trips from Buffalo through Chicago and Milwaukee to Duluth. I found it on the Internet Archive.

Duluth’s Krummel family and their Maytag washing machine

Fifty years ago today Duluth’s Krummel family appeared in a Maytag washing machine advertisement. It was in the Nov. 17, 1972 issue of Life magazine.

Photos of an Empty Skywalk

The Duluth News Tribune recently published an article about the Downtown Task Force’s recommendations to improve conditions in downtown. This summer, I spent some time walking through the Skywalk system and was a bit shocked by how empty it was. The summer might not be the most popular time to use the Skywalk, but it wasn’t just the absence of people. So many of the shops that I remembered were gone. I didn’t intend to make a themed photo series about this, but I had my camera and kept turning a corner to find another impossibly long, completely empty hallway.

PDD Quiz: Football

Are you ready for some football? Call up your best plays and tackle this week’s PDD quiz about football in the Twin Ports.

The PDD current events quiz comes your way on Nov. 27. Submit question suggestions to Alison Moffat at [email protected] by Nov. 23.

Postcard from a Night Scene of Fire in Superior Milling District

A flour mill fire in Superior caused more than $2.6 million in damage on Nov. 9, 1907 — 115 years ago today. The Duluth News Tribune referred to it as “the most disastrous fire in point of property loss, and probably the most spectacular blaze ever seen at the Head of the Lakes.”

The postcard shown above was mailed nine days after the fire. It was sent by someone named Frank to Master A. Pearson of Spokane, Wash. The photo apparently shows the smoldering remains of the Freeman Flour Mills and Elevator — Franks wrote “Fremon Mill” on the back of the card.

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