History Posts

Duluth’s beatnik coffee house had short life in 1960

Late in 1960, University of Minnesota Duluth student Bert Frink opened a beatnik coffee shop in Duluth called Bert’s Bit. It didn’t last long.

Breaking: Aquaman resigns from Committee for Building Giant Colossal Bob Dylan Statues

Armory Spat Roils Committee — Future of Imaginary Giant Colossal Statues in Limbo

Duluth MN: Lake Superior Aquaman has resigned from the Committee for Building Giant Colossal Statues of Bob Dylan in the wake of criticism from the Duluth Armory.

Postcard from a Section of the Duluth Harbor and Railroad Yards

This postcard, published by the Henricksen Agency of Duluth circa 1930, shows the Duluth waterfront, railroad yards and Aerial Lift Bridge.

Video Archive: UMD Women’s Hockey Championship Threepeat

Twenty years ago today — March 23, 2003 — the University of Minnesota Duluth won it’s third consecutive NCAA Women’s Hockey Frozen Four championship defeating Harvard 4-3 in double overtime at the DECC Arena. The news footage embedded above is from KBJR-TV.

Ripped at Frozen Man in 2003

[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 wrote the article below for the March 19, 2003 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

One reason to be nice to your bartender is that she will likely throw a party some day, and you will want to be invited. See, bartenders are good at throwing parties because … well, they’re bartenders. They have connections to all the good drinkers, and they know who the big-time assholes are. This allows them to “cast” their parties.

The party I’m going to tonight is called “Frozen Man.” I won’t provide too many details, like the name of the host, the date or the location, because I want to be invited back next year. I will tell you that Frozen Man is held in the Duluth Township, just outside of Howdy-Dotyville, where a good bonfire/campout/drinkfest can go down without someone creating an ordinance to stop it.

The concept of Frozen Man is to drink alcohol around a fire when it’s really cold out. There are various activities and rituals and surprises throughout the night, but the main purpose is to see how much cold your body can endure before you either die, go home crying or prove you are more powerful than nature itself.

Mostly auto-colorized photos of Duluth and Northern Minnesota

During the pandemic, I colorized six early Duluth photos, which was absurdly time consuming but seemed like as good of a way as any to spend some evenings inside. A friend of mine recently informed me that Adobe Photoshop now has a tool that will colorize photos automatically with far better results than my drawing over pixels method. He was somewhat correct.

Enger Park Little League circa 1963-1975

The Ensign Community Club built and maintained the Enger Park Little League Field at the dead-end of West 13th Street, just below “The Boulevard.” Fans flocked to the games and parked along neighborhood streets and on Skyline Parkway to see games play out below. Along with the field was a basketball court that doubled as a tennis court. The neighborhood built the field and maintained it for about 15 years.

Video Archive: Charlie Parr and Haley in 2002

By the power of grainy 20-year-old VHS, embedded above are performances by Charlie Parr and Haley from the short-lived WDSE-TV program Coffee House. The premiere episode featured three songs by each artist and aired March 12, 2003; the segment here contains just one each, and is from a sampler of the show that aired a week earlier. The footage was shot in 2002.

Mr. Bierhalter, what is bock beer?

As bock season kicks into high gear — Earth Rider celebrates this weekend; Fitger’s is waiting until April this year — we look back 110 years to get Fitger’s brewmaster John Bierhalter’s definition of the strong, dark beer traditionally brewed in fall and consumed in spring.

Mayor and Common Council, City of Duluth, March 10, 1913

Seated to the left of the mustached gentleman at far right appears to be Duluth’s 23rd mayor, Dr. John A. McCuen. Win the internet by identifying anyone else in the photo.

Postcard from Tugboats Record and Sinclair

Icebreaking in the Duluth Harbor is expected to start this week, with the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Spar clearing the way for the start of another shipping season.

The postcard above is from the early 1900s and shows the tugboats Record and Sinclair breaking ice in the Duluth Harbor.

AP Photo: Sixty-year-old plane crash near Duluth

March 3, 1963: Four Wisconsin men flying home from a fishing trip in Canada died as their small plane crashed in a field near Duluth. The plane, a Cessna 180, crashed at the edge of an open field a half mile west of Proctor and eight miles southwest of Duluth.

View of Duluth from Northern Pacific Docks circa 1880

This photograph shows a view of the Duluth hillside circa 1880. It was shot by Paul B. Gaylord from the Northern Pacific railroad dock.

Three academic papers on Duluth and the lost Confederate gold

The Hillside Irregulars. Clockwise from lower left: Buckminster Wilde, Angry George Enger, Babyface Bong, Fancy-Pants Nettleton

The Stolen Lost Confederate Gold: A Historical Analysis of Duluth, Minnesota’s Development

Abstract: This paper explores the historical claim that Duluth, Minnesota was built using stolen lost Confederate gold. Through a critical analysis of primary and secondary sources, including the research of historian Peter S. Svenson, this paper argues that the city’s development was aided by the illicit acquisition of gold by Union agents during the American Civil War. Specifically, this paper examines the role of Duluth native Buckminster Wilde and the Hillside Irregulars as Union assassins behind enemy lines, as well as the involvement of key figures such as Walt Whitman, the Pinkerton detective agency, and financier Jay Cooke.

Postcards from Sellers Mine, north of Hibbing

The Burt-Poole and Sellers mines were the first to ship iron ore out of Minnesota’s Iron Range in the summer of 1895. In its first five years the Sellers Ore Company shipped 188,000 tons. By 1919 the figure had shot up to 8.9 million tons, according to the 1921 book Duluth and St. Louis County, Minnesota; Their Story and People by Walter Van Brunt.

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