The stone marker pictured above, which stands in Lincoln Park, reads in part, “…Day 1911-1937 Died Here.” There is a word or two of text before that, but it is not legible. According to Meghan Callahan, who took the photo, the marker is located “…off of 27th Avenue West, right on the corner where Lincoln Parkway turns into West 6th Street.”
But a quick search reveals that St. Louis County has no record of anyone with the last name of Day dying in St. Louis County in 1937, and the only birth record for a “Day” born in Duluth in 1911 was for September 5; the record provided no first name for the child, just mother’s maiden name, Clark.
In 2014, Duluth native Steve Kreager provided the following information via Facebook:
Growing up about a half a block from this [then unmarked] ‘tombstone’ the neighborhood kids, and maybe adults, wondered why that was there. There was no explanation for it. It was just there. So, about 45 years ago a friend, with hammer and chisel, went to the corner and chiseled the name Joe Day Died Here with the dates seen in the photo. Totally made up but it has generated a little curiosity over the years. Another friend chiseled A. S. in one corner…. And now the mystery is known.
Kreager called the “A. S.” a tribute to novelist Jule Verne’s classic, Journey to the Center of the Earth. Here’s a description of the novel: “A professor and his nephew attempt to recreate a voyage to center of the Earth by following clues that were left by a medieval adventurer named Arne Saknussemm. Deciphering a coded message that leads them to the crater of an extinct volcano in Iceland, the entrance passage is confirmed to be the correct one when they discover the adventurer’s initials ‘A.S.’ in runic letters at the entrance. On another occasion, when the passage divides into three branches, they notice the initials ‘A.S.’ carved above one of the passages and choose the correct path.”
So no one died at that spot in Lincoln Park in 1937. Instead, a decades-old landscaping feature that resembled a tombstone was modified as a prank, and remains a feature of Lincoln Park today.