Duluth’s Jay Sonnenburg found these photos among his grandfather’s collection. They depict scenes from 95 years ago today at Athletic Park in West Duluth, where Duluth Central and Denfeld did battle on the gridiron.
In this video, Kenneth Newhams of Duluth Shipping News visits the bell tower of the old Duluth Central High School, now the Duluth School District’s Central Administration Building.
The chimes of the 125-year-old Central High School clock tower fell silent last week when one of the clock’s gears failed. A new gear is being made and should be in place within about six weeks, according to Dave Spooner, manager of facilities for Duluth Public Schools.
“We’ve got the clock apart and we’re in the process of having another gear made,” Spooner said. “It’s not something you can buy, you have to have them made. … It’s just a failure of an old part.”
Central High School opened in 1892, built with a clock tower that rises 230 feet. A new Central High School opened in 1971, and the original building was converted into the school district’s administrative offices. The building has since been known as the Central Administration Building or “Historic Old Central.”
Duluth Denfeld played Duluth Central tonight in high school football for what will very likely be the last time. Denfeld won 20-6 in front of a crowd of maybe 500 at Public Schools Stadium.
Before Denfeld had a football team, the big game in town was Central vs. Duluth Cathedral (now the Marshall School). But the Denfeld/Central rivalry was huge from the very beginning, and soon became the most important game in town.
There was an unofficial first game in 1916, in which Denfeld’s freshmen played Central’s freshmen to a tie. It was the only game Denfeld played that year. Having no coach, the Denfeld kids coached themselves.
The real first game was on Oct. 13, 1917 at Athletic Park (where Wade Stadium is today). Denfeld won 6-0. The Duluth News Tribune noted: “More than 1,000 students saw the contest, and school yells and cheers were not lacking, although various players were jeered by the opposing schools for tactics.”
It’s safe to say a strong rivalry was established from the very beginning, as this excerpt from the DNT story indicates.
Between halves a free-for-all fight started by rooters of both sides. Teachers of the schools also suffered. Members of the Fourth Minnesota Infantry came to the rescue and the belligerents were parted.