This undated postcard photo of two conductors standing next to a trolley car comes with a few details. The trolley car has a destination sign that reads: “W. Dul. & Aerial Bridge.” And the word “Duluth” is handwritten on the back of the card.
Often we don’t know who is the subject of these old studio photos, but this time it’s written on the back. So we know this is Marie Victoria Benson of 2801 W. Second St. in Duluth’s friendly West End. (Or is it 2301?) She later became Mrs. Edward Cluett.
Lots of questions about this picture: Was the photo taken from a structure or from an airplane? Can anyone identify the three (!) ships in the port? What jumped out to me were the twin “tin man” water towers on the hill above the bridge. Where were they located and when were they taken down?
Back when he was a student at East High School, Ben Marsen acquired a collection of photo negatives of scenes from around Duluth. The one above appears to have been shot on the 200 block of West Michigan Street, maybe where the rear entrances to R.T. Quinlan’s Saloon and Minnesota Surplus are located today — the proper addresses being 220 and 218 W. Superior St.
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.
The same pair of gentlemen appear in the photos above from the Wide Awake Studio in Duluth. In addition to the mystery of who the subjects of these photos might be is the question of why the particular studio they are standing in was open seven days a week until midnight. Why would people at the turn of the 20th Century want to, for example, get their photos taken at 11 p.m. on a Sunday? Was that normal?