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July 3, 1912: Opening of Snively Road, aka Seven Bridges Road

On this day in Duluth in 1912, Snively Road—later renamed Seven Bridges Road—officially opened as a Duluth roadway. The city announced that “while no formalities are to be observed today in connection with the opening to traffic the public is urged by members of the park board to drive over the road and enjoy its likeness to a trip through wonderland.” Samuel F. Snively began building the road by himself in 1899. It began at the junction of Lester Park’s carriage paths—Oriental and Occidental boulevards—and followed Amity Creek up the hill for about two-and-a-half miles to his farm. Snively walked the hillside to find the most scenic route, “without regard to the ease of construction,” which led to an expensive road, financed by Snively, his neighbors, the Lakeside Land Company, and the city. Wooden bridges allowed the road—open to the public in 1901—to cross Amity Creek ten times. In 1909 Snively donated $10,000 to the parks commission, encouraging the board to spend some of it on his road— essentially giving the road to the city. Duluth hired landscape architects Morell & Nichols to design stone-arch bridges to replace the original spans, which were already failing. When the drive was complete, seven of the bridges lined the city-owned portion of the road while the others were technically on Snively’s private property—hence the later name change to “Seven Bridges Road” despite the actual number of bridges. Read a complete history of Seven Bridges Road and Skyline Parkway here.

An unidentified woman drives a horse and carriage over one of the original wooden bridges along Snively Boulevard, ca. 1909. Today the drive is known as Seven Bridges Road.
(Image: Tom Kasper)

Duluth: Legendary City of the Unsalted Seas

The following story—adapted from Tony Dierckins’s Duluth: An Urban Biography (Minnesota Historical Society Press, April 2020)—was first published in the Duluth News Tribune in April, 2020, in celebration of Duluth’s 150th anniversary of first becoming a city on March 6, 1870. ___________ The legend of the digging of Duluth’s ship canal, that 100 stout men…

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Bong Barnstormed the Aerial Bridge?

Many people think World War II Ace and local hero Richard A. Bong barnstormed Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge during World War II. Bong, a native of Poplar, Wisconsin, shot down forty Japanese planes while flying his beloved P-38, nicknamed “Marge” for his wife. In 2006, John Hoff told a reporter he witnessed Bong take his…

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