History Posts

Wooden arch from Duluth’s Spalding Hotel at State Fair

I didn’t ask around, with the crowd as thick as it was, but I’m assuming this big wooden arch must be the one from the Spalding Hotel that was retrofitted into O’Gara’s fairgrounds restaurant in St. Paul.

Duluth’s Goat Hill Neighborhood

Does anyone know about the history of West Duluth’s “Goat Hill” area or how it got that name?

Cormier Dry Goods of West Duluth

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Cormier Dry Goods, 6227 Grand Ave., West Duluth, in 1907.
(Northeast Minnesota Historical Center photo.)

The same building in 2010, now entirely apartments.
(Perfect Duluth Day photo.)

Cormier Dry Goods stayed in business well into the 1930s. Gustave Cormier was the proprietor and lived upstairs. By the mid-1930s, J.A. Lundeen’s shoe store shared the building.

Park Point Amusement Park

My mom, who was born in Duluth in 1935, was re-telling me stories about the amusement park at the end of Park Point. She recalled bumper cars (she called them “dodge-em carts”), a penny arcade, a carousel, spinning swings, a candy shop (Fritz’s) and various other amusements. I know the canopy for the carousel is in the Sports Garden, but I have never seen any pictures of this park and don’t know if the topic has been addressed here. Just wondering if anyone has any insight as to whether my mom’s recollections are accurate.

Lost Superior: St. Joseph Orphan Home


I found some amazing pictures of the chapel in St. Joseph Orphan Home. It was mostly referred to as “the orphanage” and was located just to the east of the Mariner Mall in Superior.

See the photos at the Badger Catholic blog.

Duluth flag?


I’ve lived in Duluth for 21 years and have only recently discovered that we’ve got a flag — one that actually looks kind of cool (for a flag).

My questions are:
1) Why doesn’t this flag get used more often?
2) Where can I get one?

Rick Boo, Hot Rod and Hung at the NorShor

(Note: This post originally linked to a slideshow about the NorShor’s history, which is why comments to the post rave about time travel.)

Hot Orpheum Centennial Action

Photos from Thursday night at the NorShor, courtesy of the On 3 Design photo booth.

The NorShor Theatre’s Mighty Tower

In preparation for the events this week honoring the Orpheum Theatre’s centennial at the NorShor, Tony Dierckins put together a slide show with some fantastic historical photographs. You can see the whole thing on Saturday — it’ll be looping in the NorShor’s balcony theater — but here’s one of my favorite images:

This is the tower that used to be part of the theater’s marquee. You’ve probably seen photos of it from the other direction, but this one uniquely looks out over the lake. The tower stood 65 feet above the theater, weighed over 300 tons, and was completely sheathed in porcelain. It used 3,000 lights and was said to be visible from 60 miles away.

Fishing for Fossils – Sneak Peek Exhibit!

Did you know prehistoric sharks once swam Northland waters and crocodiles roamed our region? These are just two surprising facts revealed in “Fishing for Fossils,” a special month-long exhibit opening Saturday, Aug. 7, at the Great Lakes Aquarium. It will run through Labor Day Weekend.

The exhibit features numerous fossils of ancient fish and creatures that once inhabited what is now the Great Lakes Basin. Some fossil artifacts are part of the Aquarium’s in-house collection, and others are on loan from outside sources, including Hill Annex Mine State Park in Calumet, Minn.

Hill Annex Mine State Park is rich with fossils, dating back to before the glaciers. The iron ore deposit that spans the Iron Range is the shoreline of a vast, ancient inland sea. It is riddled with fossil deposits from prehistoric times, including teeth from sharks and crocodiles, plus evidence of ancient invertebrates. Fossil finds in other areas covered by this ancient sea include the remains of plesiosaurs and other giant aquatic reptiles from the age of dinosaurs.

The Life and Brawls of Thomas Madden — former chief of West Duluth Police, saloon keeper and old fashioned thug

This post is a follow up to the post requesting information about Duluth’s old bowery district. The focus here is on Tom Madden, who managed to find himself in the news a lot. Set the Wayback Machine for 1891 and we’ll go in chronological order from there.

Dec. 13, 1891 | Duluth News Tribune

Patrick Mulligan May Die From Injuries Received From Chief Madden.

Patrick Mulligan, who runs the “Little Diamond saloon on Central avenue, and who had his jaw broken a few days ago at the brickyard bagnio by a blow from ex Chief of Police Madden, was taken yesterday to St. Mary’s hospital, where he is now hovering between life and death. His jaw was set by Dr. Magie a day or two ago, but serious inflammation has set in, and the doctor said yesterday it would probably be necessary to put a silver tube in his throat to enable him to breathe. His case is a very serious one and the chances are even between life and death.

The Duluth Accordionaires — Music to Eat Pizza By (1967)

Were you there?

Duluth Protest

These photos were taken by the late Mark Arvilla. Can you guess where and when these protest photos were taken and were you there?

Bowery Bros. Bowery District?

The old bowery district is a part of Duluth’s history that seems to be forgotten, or at least not talked about too often. Bowery Bros. (new pub with delicious food I might add) is located where Duluth’s bowery district used to be. Kinda cool. Anyone have any old stories about this?

Does anyone have pictures or stories from when the Ripsaw was housed in the Temple Opera Building?

I rent and work out of Room 208 in the Temple Opera Building. Legend has it that the Ripsaw was once published out of this office. I’d love to see some photos and hear some stories about those days in this space.