History Posts

Postcard from Dredging in the Duluth Harbor

Keeping Duluth’s shipping channels open requires occasional dredging. This undated postcard offers a look at the process in the early 20th century.

Last Chance Liquor and the Pawnbroker, 2011/2021

Here’s a look at a pair of East Fourth Street buildings — one soon to be demolished, another already lost to history. The photos on the left in the side-by-sides above are from Oct. 22, 2011. The ones on the right are from Oct. 22, 2021.

How a Superior librarian hired and fired Frank Lloyd Wright

An article published this week in the online magazine Slate explores the letters exchanged circa 1940 between a Superior librarian, Edith Carlson, and the staff of Frank Lloyd Wright. She wanted the famed architect to design her modest home. It got as far as preliminary sketches and building instructions.

Time Capsule Needed

What’s the proper endgame for this shirt? In my practice, bleach spillage (as is the case here) would usually qualify this shirt for a move from my Saturday pile to the rag bin. But with this being such a noteworthy piece of early Perfect Duluth Day, and for that matter Duluth history, it seems like there should be a more proper retirement.

The Scandia Fisheries, Duluth, Minn.

A friend of mine from Seattle was eating at Jimmy Mac’s Roadhouse in Renton, just south of “the Emerald City,” and sent the above photo to me. At first it seemed like a manufactured novelty sign because searches only returned other copies of the same sign. But then I found a Minnesota Historical Society listing for a paper crate label from the same company from around the 1950s, so it appears to have been a real business.

Mystery Photo: Ekstrom Wedding

Here they are, Berger and Hilda Ekstrom, in their wedding duds. We know their names thanks to the scribbling on the back of the photo. And we know from the cardboard frame that the photographer is Lars Linden, the fiery Swede who had a studio at 1619 W. Superior St. in Duluth. What’s the mystery? Well, everything else. What became of ol’ Berger and Hilda?

Reading Sinclair Lewis: Country, Critiques, City Satires

The Minnesota Historical Society produced this video dramatizing excerpts from two of novelist and social critic Sinclair Lewis’ breakthrough works — Babbitt and Main Street. Lewis, of course, went on to become a Duluthian and even kind of almost coined the phrase “perfect Duluth day.”

The program is created and hosted by Craig Johnson and features actors David Beukema, Anna Leverett, Damian Leverett and Melanie Wehrmacher. It was filmed on location in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sauk Centre.

Postcard from the Jorgensons on Minnesota Point

Remember the Pettersen gals photo on Point of Rocks? Well, they’ve turned up in another old Duluth pic, this time on the beach at Minnesota Point.

Sky-Diver and Cold Turkey

Geeks will help out in the comments, but it appears what we have here is a QSL card — a postcard mailed to confirm receipt of a ham or citizens-band radio transmission. The CM 76 presumably means it was a calling card of Duluth ham radio operator Charles F. Makowski circa 1976.

Duluth considers “trackless trolley” in 1921

One century ago the Duluth Street Railway Company — predecessor to the Duluth Transit Authority — was keeping a close eye on plans for adding trolley buses in Minneapolis. How long did it take for Duluth to get it’s first “trackless trolley”? Pretty much exactly ten more years.

According to Zenith City Online, Duluth’s first trolley buses ran on Oct. 4, 1931. The Duluth Herald reported about Duluth considering trolley buses in its Oct. 6, 1921 issue, one hundred years ago today.

Postcard from Up North, 2001

This postcard appears to have never been mailed, but it has the name of a recipient on the back and is dated Oct. 3, 2001 — 20 years ago today. The card was published by Erickson Post Cards & Souvenirs in Hermantown, and the photo is credited to Benjamin Fondrik.

Condor: Duluth band in the 1970s

One of Duluth’s more notable bands of the mid-to-late 1970s was an act called Condor, but there is very little information about the group online, so this post is a crowdsourcing quest to change that.

Postcard from the Incline Railway with View of Minnesota Point

This postcard was mailed from Superior on Sept. 27, 1906 — 115 years ago today — by W. F. McMannis. The recipient was Miss Mabelle Reed of West Dover, Ohio. The image depicts the Duluth Incline Railway, showing the view from the top of the Duluth harbor and waterfront district, and of course Minnesota Point.

Preservation group lists ‘most endangered places’ in Duluth

The Duluth Missabe and Iron Range Railway Dock #5 has not been used since 1985. The Duluth Preservation Alliance has listed it as an endangered property. (Photos by Mark Nicklawske)

A slowly disappearing neighborhood rich in Native American history, a large building once home to a radical labor college and an iconic, unused iron ore dock are included in a list of places historians fear may disappear from the Duluth landscape.

The Duluth Preservation Alliance released a Top 10 Most Endangered Places list during an event outside the soon-to-be demolished Esmond Building in Lincoln Park Saturday, Sept. 25. The list, regularly compiled by the group, is designed to raise preservation awareness and encourage the reuse of historic properties.

The Pettersen Gals at Point of Rocks

And the award for best Duluth photo of 1911 pretty much has to go to this postcard image of three gals on Point of Rocks looking out over the city. And someone was smart enought to write their names on the back. Nora, Emma and Inga Pettersen posed for this shot 110 years ago.

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