Posts by Heidi Bakk-Hansen

Lyman Park

We often address the idea of “lost neighborhoods” in this column—places at the edges of Duluth’s built-up neighborhoods, or green spaces where nothing remains but a few footpaths and a pleasant stroll for you and the dog. It is thanks to the abandonment caused by turn-of-the-century booms and busts that we have so much green…

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Colbyville

Duluth is full of neighborhoods with lost or nearly-lost names. As modern Duluthians become more mobile and have less connection to the place they live in, borders blend or move, and names disappear. Last year, a local article made mention of a man who reported he lived in Woodland, near the intersection of Snively Road…

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Hunters Park & the Isle of Lewis

Dig deep enough into the clannish histories of any smaller city in America and you’ll find lines of immigration that darken well-trodden paths from even smaller places all over Europe. Relatives bring relatives, childhood friends invite childhood friends, and soon enough you have neighborhoods called Little Italy or Polish Town where a handful of names…

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Woodland

Duluth’s neighborhoods each have their distinct histories and personalities borne out of the developers who carved them out of the wilderness, the settlers who lived there, and the circumstances that shaped what they became. Duluth’s Woodland neighborhood was no exception, and its developers relied heavily on the Motor Line Improvement Company—and later the Duluth Street…

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Lesure Lumber Mill

A walk to the end of Grassy Point today is like skipping backwards in time. Grasses grow in wetlands where Lake Superior and the St. Louis River meet, not unlike they did 200 years ago. Just over a hundred years ago, however, Grassy Point was the center of Duluth’s lumber industry, complete with chugging steam-powered…

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The Slaying of Dr. J. J. Eklund

August 19, 1922, was an unusually hot and dry Saturday in Duluth. That morning Mrs. C. M. Peterson and her daughter Marie had traveled by train to Duluth from Deer River to see the well-respected allopath Dr. John J. Eklund in his office in the Long Block at 7 East Superior Street. The women sat…

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Duluth’s First Murder

In the summer of 1869, Duluth was a dirty town of mud and stumps, tarpaper shacks, saloons, and treacherous plank sidewalks. The Fisheaters who’d survived the earliest bust were on their way up again, sure that this time the world would see the Zenith City’s full potential as the center of North American commerce. The…

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The Last Legal Hanging in St. Louis County

Like too many tragedies, this story begins with love. A man loved a woman. The woman he loved stopped loving him back. And the woman had to die. The man was Charles Ernest Lafayette Henderson. He was thirty-four years old and a veteran of the Spanish-American War. He was born and raised in Charlotte, North…

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The Palmer House Shootings

As the 1920s began, Saturday nights were for dancing, a weekly break to socialize after the grind of labor and the stress of union struggle. On October 1, 1921, sixteen-year old Anna Arvola was probably anxious to kick up her heels, so she joined her ethnic brethren at the Finnish Workers’ Hall at 314 Sixth…

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The mysterious “Howard Gnesen” of Howard-Gnesen Road.

Perhaps there should be no surprise that some people might think Howard Gnesen was a man—the hyphen between Howard and Gnesen having been mostly done away with by the shorthand of time. Unlike Jean Duluth Road—which was named for a farm, which was named for an historical error—Howard Gnesen was not named for a person…

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