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St. Louis River Posts

The Old Riverside Store & Auditorium

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OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeThe large, weathered building on the corner of Industrial Avenue and Spring Street in Duluth’s Riverside neighborhood is a bit of a curiosity. Does someone live there? Is it basically a storage building? What was it constructed for?

The “One River, Many Stories” community journalism project in April seemed like a good excuse to track down some answers. The owner of the building, Douglas J. McEneany, did not respond to requests for an interview, but searches at the Duluth Public Library for historical data were fruitful.

Oliver Bridge Flyover

‎Adam Jagunich took his Q500 out on a windy day to capture scenes around the Oliver Bridge on the St. Louis River.

St. Louis River Story: Stephan Witherspoon

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgePeople in the St. Louis River watershed shared their connection to the river with WDSE-TV during the opening reception for The St. Louis River: Diverse Connections at the Duluth Art Institute. In this installment, Stephan Witherspoon talks about his family catching “a big garbage bag full of catfish” on the St. Louis River.

Commerce on the River: Superior Packaging Company

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OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeTom Franta started Superior Packaging Company in 1994 in his hometown of Minnetonka. Eventually he moved the business to Superior, where he was able to get his foot in the door with many companies by cold calling. The company’s product, called dunnage, or damage prevention, consists of materials that are placed in domestic and international shipping containers or boxcars to prevent damage to inventory by restraining any excess space.

SPC supplies companies such as Kikkoman, Del Monte and Seneca foods. Franta recalls his humble roots in his then-partner’s parents’ garage with no heat, using the alleyway to roll paper tubes to make packaging supplies and gluing them to cardboard to make pallets by hand. Today, Superior Packaging Company uses machines to do what he once did by hand. The company moved to its present location in West Duluth 15 years ago, when a larger facility was needed. This location is convenient for SPC as most shipping is done using common carriers on the highway.

Video: Jay Cooke Park Swinging Gate Bridge in 1939

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeQuoth the Minnesota State Parks and Trails Facebook page: “The spring ritual of visiting the Swinging Bridge at Jay Cooke State Park during high water has been around since the bridge was built in 1924. This rare 1939 video shows a family bravely crossing the river before the bridge is damaged by high water. Since it was built, the bridge has been raised seven and a half feet to try to stay above the floods. Unfortunately, mother nature doesn’t always cooperate. Today’s visitors are crossing Swinging Bridge number five!”

For the history of the swinging bridge, visit dnr.state.mn.us.

Swinging Gate Bridge at Jay Cooke Park 1920s Swinging Bridge 1920s

Postcards from the many beauty spots on the St. Louis River

One of the many beauty spots on St. Louis River between Duluth-Superior Harbor and Fond du Lac

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeAs the One River, Many Stories project draws to a close, PDD presents the remaining St. Louis River postcards from the dusty digital archive. See the recommended links at the end of this post to check out more St. Louis River postcards.

Improved habitat boosts lake sturgeon recovery in St. Louis River

Jeramy Pinkerton and Anna Varian of DNR fisheries hold the largest sturgeon ever sampled in the St Louis River.The sturgeon, 65 inches long and about 53 pounds, was captured April 20, implanted with an acoustic transmitter and PIT tag and released.

Jeramy Pinkerton and Anna Varian of DNR fisheries hold the largest sturgeon ever sampled in the St Louis River. The sturgeon, 65 inches long and about 53 pounds, was captured April 20, implanted with an acoustic transmitter and PIT tag and released.

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeFollowing years of clean water improvements and habitat projects, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports that lake sturgeon are returning to the St. Louis River in larger numbers. DNR fisheries staff are embarking on a new research project to study the growing numbers and learn more about how these long-lived, native species use the river and Lake Superior throughout the year.

Commerce on the River: Demolicious

Demolicious - Dianne Anderson

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeDianne Anderson launched Demolicious in 2000, creating a public drop-off site for everything but the kitchen sink. Well actually, Demolicious will take kitchen sinks. It will take anything but household garbage, hazardous materials or chemicals. Anything else is fair game, but mostly the business receives construction waste. Clients can drop off their trash for a fee or rent a roll-off, which is a large waste container Demolicious will drop off empty and pick up when filled.

Materials get sorted and separated. Wood, for example, gets grouped together and ground into wood chips. What can be recycled is recycled. The business has many repeat customers, especially contractors who use it often, as well as one-time users who wish to discard things like old furniture.

St. Louis River Story: Sharon Rogers

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgePeople in the St. Louis River watershed shared their connection to the river with WDSE-TV during the opening reception for The St. Louis River: Diverse Connections at the Duluth Art Institute. In this installment, Sharon Rogers talks about the quiet of the river, the birds, the wildlife and the flowers.

Commerce on the River: Willard Munger Inn

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OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeIt all started when Willard Munger opened the Willard Munger Inn in 1950, before the Interstate Highway System and I-35 existed, when State Highway 23 was the main road into Duluth. Over time, proximity to the St. Louis River has come to mean more and more to the business as the health of the waterway has improved and outdoor tourism has grown.

Jeff Munger, grandson of the founder and current manager of the motel, recalls how his grandfather lived at the inn and woke up early every morning to tend to his guests until 1991, when his son Willard Jr. took over managing the operations. The inn has since expanded, employing eight people in the high season of summer.

Commerce on the River: Loll Designs

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OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeIn a manufacturing facility a few hundred feet from Stryker Bay in West Duluth, Greg Benson leads a company dedicated to making outdoor furniture “for the modern lollygagger.” Before launching Loll Designs, however, Benson built skateboard ramps. He started out in his neighbor’s garage and eventually worked with municipalities to design and implement custom skate parks. The excess materials turned out to make attractive and durable Adirondack-style chairs, and a new business was born.

“A lot of people assume that I must have been a skater, but really I enjoy hiking, kayaking, camping and being outdoors much more,” Benson says. He and his brother Dave, both University of Minnesota Duluth graduates, along with Tony Ciardelli , founded both Loll and Epicurean, a company that makes cutting boards and other kitchen products. They sold TrueRide in 2008 to a California company and took what they had learned and ran with it.

Postcards from the Swinging Bridge at Jay Cooke State Park

Swinging Bridge Over St Louis River

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeThe text on the back of old-school Swinging Bridge postcards tends to read the same no matter what the image: “This unique Swing Bridge spans the St. Louis River in Jay Cooke State Park, 4,000 acres of rugged picturesque beauty along the rapids of the St. Louis River, extending from Carlton, Minn., to Fond du Lac, a suburb of Duluth.”

St. Louis River at Hudson’s Bay Company

St Louis River at Hudson Trading 1907

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeThis postcard, sent from Hibbing on Sept. 9, 1907, to Miss Hanna Backman of Ironwood, Mich., depicts, a “scene on the St. Louis River” in Duluth’s Fond du Lac neighborhood, “where the Hudson Bay Co. established a trading post about the year 1640.”

The Hudson’s Bay Company in general, however, wasn’t founded until 1670, so, as usual, take postcard caption information for what it is worth.

Barbarian

DavidBeard_SEMy friend John and his wife Chieko left John’s son from his first marriage behind at Stone Farm. Stone Farm, Suffolk, is all I need to write as an address on the letters and postcards I send to him twice a year in the United Kingdom. The family home (occupied by John, Chieko, John Jr., and John’s mother) is older than the United States. When the bowing timbers used to frame the home were cut, the colonies were still colonies.

John spent a week in Duluth. He was to give lectures at the Alworth Institute about energy policy in the U.K. And of course, ostensibly, he was here to visit his friend, David. But John was a fisherman. You don’t cross the Atlantic to talk about U.K. dependence on natural gas to Minnesotans. You come to fish.

We visited Gooseberry, and John took romantic photos under the falls. We ate smoked fish and lobster — John ate at Red Lobster so many times because the exchange rate between the pound and the dollar was so favorable.

Walter Whitehead’s Last Fight

Whitehead_1_ZCPOne time, way back in 1909, two pugilists who’d been exchanging “hard words” around Duluth, tried to evade the law by conducting a prizefight on a scow in the middle of the St. Louis River. This is the story of regional boxing champion Walter Whitehead’s last fight.

Rumble on the River