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2020: A Big Year in Historic—and Notorious—Duluth Anniversaries

A slightly belated welcome to 2020, a year stuffed full of important—and notorious—anniversaries for the Zenith City.

This year marks Duluth’s 150th Anniversary of first becoming a city in March 1870. There were many Duluth “firsts” that year, and we will celebrate many of those with our “This Day in Duluth” entries. I’ll also be sharing stories of Duluth’s first fifteen years or so every-other Sunday in the Duluth News Tribune beginning January 12 and going though April, when my newest book—Duluth: An Urban Biography—will be released. Meanwhile click on this link for a listing of all our 1870-related stories.

And 2020 is of course 100 years since 1920, a huge year in Duluth history that includes Duluth’s most tragic day: June 15, 1920, when an angry and ill-informed, racially motivated mob lynched three young men falsely accused of rape. You can read Heidi Bakk-Hansen’s story on the lynchings here and her story about the victims of the lynchings here. And for all other items related to 1920, click here. (We’ll be gathering all our information on Prohibition and the history of liquor laws in Duluth for a story on January 17, the 100th anniversary of the Volstead Act going into effect.)


  1. David M Spencer on January 6, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    Thank you so much for the work you do on this site, these emails are a daily reminder of Duluth’s rich and colorful history. My great grandfather, George Spencer, came to Duluth in 1870 and amongst a variety of pursuits founded Pilgrim Cong. Church, The Kitchi Gammi Club, The Board of Trade and from what I gathered from your work, the Duluth Fire Department. I am the sole remaning member in Duluth of the Spencer/Marshall (A.M. Marshall) clan and proudly live in Morley Heights.
    Thanks again for helping keep Duluth’s history alive.
    David Spencer

    • Tony Dierckins on January 6, 2020 at 1:20 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, David! Always nice to hear from a descendant of those I write about, and even better to know you are keeping the family fire(s) burning in Duluth!

  2. Jim Turchi on January 13, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    My grandfather, Leo Bemke, with Bob Watt built a bi-plane in 1913, modeled after the Wright Brothers plane and flew it on the ice off Garfield Ave. Because grandpa had a peg leg (lost at the age of 4 as a train ran over it), Bob flew the plane for about 15 minutes at a height of 50 ft. When the engine stalled, Bob leaped from the plane just before the plane crashed and the rear mounted motor broke loose in the crash. He survived. Grandma then gave Leo a choice, me or those airplanes. As I exist, you can guess how he chose. I’d write more but only have an IPad.

    • SHARON OLSON on March 22, 2020 at 3:03 pm

      Thanks for gathering all the amazing history on our beautiful city.
      I love reading the history and how it became, all the amazing people that created and all the firsts.

      • Tony Dierckins on March 22, 2020 at 4:43 pm

        Thanks, Sharon!

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