April 7, 1905: The Bon Ami becomes first vessel to enter the Duluth-Superior Harbor passing under the Aerial Transfer Bridge

The Bon Ami. (Image: Great Lakes Vessel Index)

On this day in Duluth in 1905, the Bon Ami became the first vessel to pass through the Duluth Ship Canal from the lakeward side and pass under the brand new Duluth Aerial Transfer Bridge before entering the Duluth-Superior harbor. The Bon Ami, a 108-foot wooden steamer, had set out for Port Wing and Herbster, fishing towns along the Wisconsin South Shore. Heavy ice on the lake forced her back to Duluth, and she entered the harbor’s safety through the canal, and therefore under the bridge. Not until April 20 did the E. N. Saunders come in off the lake to become the first vessel to navigate from Sault Ste. Marie to Duluth and enter through the canal, under the bridge. Back in 1871, the Frank C. Fero, a tugboat, became the very first vessel to go through the canal. That was on Sunday, April 30, the day after the dredger Ishpheming finished its initial cut of the canal after taking its first bite out of Portage Street on Minnesota Point September 5, 1870. The first vessel to pass below the Aerial Lift Bridge was the Corps of Engineers tug USS Essayons on March 29, 1930. The first automobile passed over the transfer bridge on April 8, 1905. The first car to drive over the lift bridge did so on January 12, 1930; the first streetcar passed over the lift bridge on March 29, 1930. Read about the life of Duluth’s Aerial Transfer Bridge, predecessor to the Aerial Lift Bridge, here.

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