History Posts

Steamer Christopher Columbus at Duluth

The Library of Congress captions this image “Steamer Christopher Columbus from Duluth passing industrial buildings,” and dates it “between 1900 and 1915.”

The SS Christopher Columbus was the longest whaleback ship ever built and the only one outfitted to serve as a passenger steamer — the rest were cargo barges. It was built by American Steel Barge Company in Superior and was in service from 1893 to 1933.

Postcard from American Steel and Wire Works

This undated postcard was published by H. C. Wick Company of Duluth, and features an Ektachrome photograph by Rod Peterson.

The caption on the back of the card reads:

American Steel & Wire plant at Morgan Park, Duluth, Minn. View from Skyline Boulevard.

Dwight Woodbridge’s 1920 Sub-Arctic Exploration

One century ago, Duluth’s Dwight Woodbridge returned from a trip exploring “uncharted islands” in Hudson Bay in northeastern Canada. His story appears in the Aug. 10, 1920 Duluth Herald.

Mystery Photos #117 and #118: Gals at H. Mathieson Studio

Many early studio photographers around Duluth printed their photographs on flowery pre-printed cabinet cards, often with their names prominently displayed. Often the name of the person photographed is lost to history, but we can easily locate the photographer in the records more than 100 years later.

West Duluth Gardens of 1920

There seems to be a gardening boom in 2020, obviously due to more people staying home during the pandemic. West Duluth has a bit of a reputation for having had numerous gardens a century ago that slowly petered out in more recent decades. According to an article in the Aug. 7, 1920 Duluth Herald, gardening in West Duluth got a big boost from the neighborhood’s commercial club.

Postcard from the S.S. North West

This postcard was mailed 110 years ago today — Aug. 4, 1910 — from A. Nelson in Duluth to Miss Louise Skoug in Two Harbors.

According to the Historic Detroit website, the North West “began its life as one of the finest passenger steamers ever built for service on the Great Lakes — and, after a series of unusual events, ended that life by being torpedoed by the Germans during World War II.”

Postcard from Duluth’s Hillside in 1950

This postcard was mailed Aug. 2, 1950 — 70 years ago today. It features a view of Duluth’s harbor entrance, ship canal, Lake Superior and the Downtown business district.

“The Snowbirds are coming!” Duluth Airbase Open House, 1980

Forty years ago today.

Saints Duluth Roller Skating Center, 1978

Forty-two years ago today — July 30, 1978 — the Duluth News Tribune published a feature about the Saints Duluth Roller Skating Center on the cover of its Today’s Living section. Featured in photos were Rory Wohlstrom, Tammy Bergman, Lynda Gill, Tommi Peterson and Henry Miltakis.

Postcard from the Spruce Mine at Eveleth

The undated postcard shown here is a scene from the Spruce Mine in Eveleth, about 50 miles north of Duluth. The card was published by David Milavetz News Company of Virginia, Minn. and produced by E. C. Kropp Co. of Milwaukee, Wis.

Postcard from Duluth’s “Business Section”

This undated postcard was never mailed, but at some point a message was scrawled on the back:

This is the main street in the business section of Duluth. It runs in the low part of the city and follows more or less regularly the shore of the lake.

Classic photos of Lake Superior Zoo and Kingsbury Creek

The Duluth Zoo’s white stucco restroom facilities circa 1923. Photo by Hugh McKenzie.

Duluth’s municipal zoo opened in 1923 after the city council gave a small piece of land to print-shop owner Bert Onsgard and hired him as zookeeper. He was paid $1 per year for tending to a white-tailed deer and a few native birds. The zoo would eventually expand to cover 16 acres of land surrounding Kingsbury Creek in Fairmount Park, and hold hundreds of animals from around the world.

Corner Stores on West Third Street in Duluth

Does anyone remember the two corner stores that were across from Bryant School on West Third Street? What were the names?

A Swimming Hole at Lester Park

The Library of Congress dates this photo from Detroit Publishing Company as circa 1904.

Airplane View of Grain Elevators, Lift Bridge and Duluth Harbor

This undated postcard from Zenith Interstate News Company offers a view of grain elevator’s on Rice’s Point, the Duluth-Superior Harbor, Aerial Lift Bridge and other waterfront locations.

The caption on the back reads:

Duluth-Superior Harbor ranks second in the world, second only to New York City in tonnage handled annually. More than ten thousand vessels arrive and depart annually from the Duluth-Superior Harbor. In this picture you see featured part of the great grain elevators and docks in the harbor. There are also the world’s largest iron ore and coal docks in this magnificent harbor.