Postcard from Unloading Coal in 1912

This postcard was mailed 110 years ago today — Sept. 20, 1912. The recipient was Mr. Guss Ferdettel [or Ferdellet?] of Bentley, Mich.

Cirrus investing $15 million in Duluth ‘innovation center’

Minnesota Public Radio reports Cirrus Aircraft plans to invest $15 million in a new “Innovation Center” at the former Northwest Airlines maintenance base. The company said it plans to hire 80 additional engineers over the next three years.

Greater Denfeld Foundation thriving after 50 years

Peyton Bradbury, left, was awarded a Marie V. Saltwick Scholarship and the Greater Denfeld Foundation Health Science Award at Denfeld Honors Night in May. He’s in the nursing program at Umass Boston. Xander Schroeder, right, received an Armond Hauge Scholarship, a Greater Denfeld Foundation Award and the Matt Kero #4 Memorial Scholarship. He’s at the University of Minnesota Duluth studying computer science.

Public school students in western Duluth who pursue post-secondary education have found a wealth of scholarship money available in recent decades. It’s all because of groundwork laid 50 years ago, and the generosity of generations of Denfeld High School graduates.

The Greater Denfeld Foundation has been reducing the financial burden of college for Denfeld students since 1972, and has grown to be one of the largest public school scholarship funds in the country. It presently manages more than $8 million in assets according to board president Gary Eckenberg, who graduated from Denfeld in 1968. More than $2 million in scholarships have been awarded to date.

Ripped at the Keyboard Lounge in 2002

[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 stumbled into the Keyboard Lounge in Proctor and wrote the article below for the Sept. 18, 2002 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

So I walk into the Keyboard Lounge and, although there’s a fistfight going on in the middle of the floor, I’m distracted. The violence, the hollering, even the gang of people on the karaoke stage providing the obligatory a cappella version of “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” can’t compete with … uh … well … you should sit down for this.

I don’t normally have hallucinations when I’m drinking, so I will gladly swear upon a kitchen cupboard full of barley, hops and yeast that everyone in this joint is wearing nightgowns and underwear. The female bartender is wearing pasties. The male bartender is wearing a bulletproof vest and silk boxers. There’s a guy who looks like Sonny Bono and he’s wearing assless jeans. There’s a woman wearing a black fishnet number that’s getting everyone bothered. Everywhere I look is flesh and panties and frilly stuff. A sign on the wall finally explains. It’s “Naughty Nightie Night!” Well, that’s just typical for the Keyboard Lounge. Ask for an explanation, get an exclamation.

Bank building in Lincoln Park begins its second century

When Duluth National Bank held the grand opening event for its new building on Sept. 16, 1922, newspapers touted it as “a triumph of artistic design and architecture,” and “a model and a monument to the craftsmen who planned and built it.” A century later, the structure in many ways remains in grand condition, but without a defining tenant. Titanium Partners, the building’s new owner, hopes to change that.

Mid-century modern work highlighted in Duluth home tour

The Hart House at 1545 Skyline Drive soon after construction was completed in 1952. The Chester Bowl ski jump can be seen in the background to the left of the house. (Photo courtesy of Aethan Hart)

The legendary Frank Lloyd Wright may not have been the architect but his influence is all over a striking little house tucked into a wooded lot just around the bend from Chester Park.

Known as the Hart house, the property at 1545 Skyline Parkway will be one of six featured homes in the 2022 Duluth Preservation Alliance Historic Properties Tour beginning at 11 am Sunday, Sept. 18. The annual event allows ticket holders to roam around inside some of the most beautiful homes in the city, this year featuring a collection of unusual mid-century modern works.

Postcard from the Entrance to the Duluth-Superior Harbor

This postcard of the Aerial Bridge, circa 1915-1925, notes its span is “393 feet 9 inches, 135 feet high from water line” and its construction cost was $100,000. The image shows a ferry car being transferred across the canal. The bridge’s era as a transfer bridge ran from March 27, 1905 to July 1, 1929.

Congrats ARAC Grant Recipients

The Arrowhead Regional Arts Council has announced its grant recipients from June to August. The full list of project descriptions is at

Duluth mentioned in Washington Post article on biking

A data analysis article on the Washington Post website touts Key West, Fla., as a city with a high percentage of bike commuters, and a resident draws a comparison to Duluth.

“It’s not Duluth,” said Dane Iseman, longtime Key West resident and co-owner of Island Bicycles. “Unless there’s a hurricane whipping through here, unless there’s coconuts flying sideways around the island, you can ride pretty much anytime.”

Just three months ago, however, a Washington Post article referred to Duluth as a “mountain biking paradise.”

Selective Focus: The Chief Buffalo Memorial Mural

The Chief Buffalo Mural Project is a collaboration between project manager and artist Moira Villiard alongside lead artists Michelle Defoe, Awanagiizhik Bruce, and Sylvia Houle, the Duluth Indigenous Commission, Zeitgeist Center for Arts, American Indian Movement Twin Ports Support Group, and descendants of Chief Buffalo.

An unveiling of the project is scheduled in Gichi-ode’ Akiing (formerly Lake Place Park) along the Duluth Lakewalk from 5 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 14, complete with food and an opportunity to meet the artists.

We’ve asked Villiard to share more about the project:

Council approves demolition of Astoria Hotel

Another contributing building to the Duluth Commercial Historic District could soon be gone. The Duluth City Council voted to reverse a decision by the Heritage Preservation Commission to block the demolition of the former Astoria Hotel at 102 E. Superior St. The two-story white brick building housed the Chinese Dragon restaurant, Hucklebeary store and Old Towne Antiques until the end of 2021, when the building’s new owner, ZMC Hotels, terminated the leases.

The building was constructed in 1905 and was recently listed on the Duluth Preservation Alliance’s list of the city’s most endangered places.

History of the Minnesota Vikings, Prologue: Duluth, 1926

The history of the Minnesota Vikings begins with the Duluth Eskimos. Director and producer Fernando Camargo kicks off his seven-part docuseries with this “unofficial 0th installment,” which details Duluth’s 1926 campaign “that saved pro football as we know it.”

PDD Quiz: School Daze

Go to the head of the class with this week’s quiz, which looks at Duluth school buildings of yore. As with all topics related to local history, the Zenith City Press website and Minnesota Digital Library were indispensible resources.

The next PDD quiz will review September 2022 headlines; it will be published on Sept. 25. Submit question suggestions to Alison Moffat at [email protected] by Sept. 21.

Big Sky Woody – “#36”

Another Big Sky Woody tune available for free on Bandcamp.

Lean into Your Fear: Whitewater Rafting on the St. Louis River

This story is from my personal blog, “Marie’s Meanderings.” When I write a travel post, because my blog’s name has the word “meander” in it, I usually open by saying I “meandered” here and there.

Well, I can’t use that term this time. It’s more accurate to say I reluctantly agreed to go on a whitewater rafting trip down the St. Louis River and promised to scream all the way!

It all started when my friend Russ, who is an experienced kayaker, won a silent auction item at a fundraiser for the St. Louis River Alliance in 2018. He won two tickets for whitewater rafting through Minnesota Whitewater Rafting, a local company that operates out of Scanlon.

Upon my insistence, we agreed to wait for the trip until the water was warm, to make it a more comfortable experience. Now it was August, month of warm weather and water, and I was out of excuses not to go. We gathered everything the company’s information sheet instructed rafters to bring: a dry change of clothes, snug-fitting footwear, windbreaker, towel, etc. And off we went.

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