History Posts

Postcard from the Rex Hotel

This postcard was mailed 100 years ago today — July 7, 1922. The illustration presents an aggrandized version of the Rex Hotel, which later became the Curtis Hotel, then Milner Hotel, then Seaway Hotel, and then briefly the Esmond Building. It was actually a three-story building, not four like the postcard shows, and the ground floor wasn’t so ridiculously tall as to dwarf any people or automobiles in front of it.

SS Meteor: The Last of the Whalebacks

Built in 1896, the SS Meteor is the last surviving above-water whaleback ship in the world. It operated until 1969 and is now a museum ship on Barker’s Island in Superior. The documentary embedded above was created by Duluth Film Company, a division of GOV Productions.

The Pink Aerial Lift Bridge Dollhouse Toilet

It’s been nearly 10 years since the pink Aerial Lift Bridge dollhouse toilet was first mentioned on Perfect Duluth Day — back when it was listed for sale on eBay. Since the reference to it was just a brief mention in a comment to the PDD Gift Guide 2012, perhaps it is time the Duluthy commode is revisited and given its own separate post, if for no other purpose than for speculating on its origin.

Video Archive: Benzene Spill of 1992

Thirty years ago today nearly 30,000 residents of Superior and neighboring areas were evacuated after a Burlington Northern train derailed on a bridge over the Nemadji River, causing a benzene leak from a derailed car.

The video clip above is from KBJR-TV’s News 6 Nightside with anchor Michelle Lee and reports from KBJR’s Heather Filkins and Laura Bergan and KARE-11 reporter Rick Kupchella on the catastrophe that came to be known as “Toxic Tuesday.”

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Circa 1870

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was built at 209 N. Lake Ave. in 1869. The location is roughly where Harbor Pointe Credit Union’s main branch is today, across the avenue from Old Central High School.

The modern St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 1710 E. Superior St. was completed in 1914 and the original in the photo above was demolished in 1925. More on the history of St. Paul’s can be found at stpaulsfaithformation.org.

Postcard from the Famous Aerial Lift Bridge in 1972

On a Monday evening 50 years ago, someone named Ruth Ellen sent this postcard to Dee Ann Faerber of Independence, Mo. “The trees are beautiful,” she wrote. “Rain is supposed to stop Tuesday.”

The Hotel Astoria Debate

WDSE-TV‘s Almanac North examines the conversation circling the former Hotel Astoria in Duluth’s Duluth’s Historic Arts and Theater district. Producer Megan McGarvey sat down with individuals on both sides of the debate.

Duluth’s Ideal Market

This photo, credited to Clarence Sager, is dated June 18, 1972 — 50 years ago today. The Ideal Market was located at 102 W. First St., the present-day location of Lifehouse.

The store opened in 1921 and closed in 1999. The Duluth News Tribune Attic has photos and stories from its last days.

Postcard from Duluth & Northeastern Railroad Number #28

This undated postcard shows the Duluth and Northeastern Railroad #28 Steam Locomotive chugging along in Cloquet. The photo is by Walter R. Evans and the card was published by Mary Jayne’s Railroad Specialties.

PDD Quiz: Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Step up to the plate for this baseball-themed PDD quiz! For more on Duluth baseball history, check out the Zenith City website and the Minnesota Digital Library.

The next PDD quiz will review the headlines from June 2022; it will be published on June 26. Submit question suggestions to Alison Moffat at [email protected] by June 22.

Postcard from the Duluth Depot

The message on the back of this Union Depot postcard is dated June 8, 1912 — 110 years ago today. The names are tricky to read, but the sender signs off from Detroit, Mich. and the recipient was in Beaver Dam, Wis.

View in the City of Duluth Circa 1872

This image from a stereograph circa 1872 shows a view of Superior Street in Downtown Duluth looking eastward from roughly First Avenue West. The odd-shaped building in the upper right corner of the image is the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad Grain Elevator A, which was on the shore of Lake Superior at about Fourth Avenue East.

Video Archive: The First Half-century of Goldfines in Business

This 50-year-old film is a sort of unproduced mini-documentary about Duluth’s Goldfine family, with particular emphasis on their roles as civic leaders. The family’s entrepreneurial story in Duluth goes back to 1922, so it can be viewed today as marking a full century of Goldfine family enterprises in the city.

Minnesota Historia: The Chief Buffalo Memorial Project

Artist Moira Villiard presents a tour of the Chief Buffalo mural and the origin story of Downtown Duluth.

Minnesota Historia is a six-part WDSE-TV web series dedicated to Minnesota’s quirky past. It is hosted by Hailey Eidenschink and produced/edited/written by Mike Scholtz.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act of 1978

This 10-minute documentary on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act of 1978 was produced by Sam Fulton and Mark Rogalski for National History Day on the theme of “Debate & Diplomacy.” The process paper and bibliography is at mn.nhd.org.

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