Posts by Nancy Nelson

Enger Park & Twin Ponds

Located atop one of the highest points in Duluth, Enger Park was envisioned long before it received the name it bears today. Thirty acres of this rocky hillside below Skyline Parkway, which the Duluth Board of Park Commissioners named Central Park, was set aside as one of the city’s first parks. As early as 1890,…

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Fond du Lac Park

Today the name Fond du Lac Park is associated with a small recreation area adjacent to Mission Creek on the north side of Highway 23 in Duluth’s Fond du Lac neighborhood. But in 1923 Mayor Sam Snively gave this name to one of Duluth’s largest greenspaces after the city purchased over five hundred acres of…

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Hartley Park

Guilford Graham Hartley was a man of varied business interests. He invested in just about every growing industry active in northern Minnesota in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, from logging camps to iron mines, real estate to street railways, newspapers to wholesale food and dry goods, vaudeville theatre to shoe manufacturing, and cattle…

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The Parks of Minnesota Point

In 1900 the Duluth News Tribune poetically described Minnesota Point as “a penciled eyebrow on the face of nature.” Since the establishment of Superior, Wisconsin, and the townships that make up modern Duluth, residents of both cities, along with thousands of visitors, have taken advantage of this narrow sandbar as a delightful summer resort—a place to picnic,…

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Duluth’s Undeveloped Parks

Although many of Duluth’s well-known parks have complex histories that reflect the changing needs and tastes of each generation, other parks have a much simpler story—one of quietly remaining in their natural state. Today these undeveloped parks make up over six thousand acres within the city’s limits. They are found from Fond du Lac to…

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Janette Polly Cabin

In April 1921 Sam Snively became mayor of Duluth. Despite his love of the city’s park system, Snively realized that the scorched remnants of the forest at Janette Pollay Park no longer provided the “exquisite specimen of nature’s handiwork” that had made the area special. He offered to let local Girl Scouts of America troops…

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Duluth: The Homecroft City

In the late 1890s the booming city of Duluth was a major transportation center where railroads and ships loaded the region’s natural resources of iron ore and timber for distribution across the country. But few farms existed in the area, and food of any sort commanded a premium price. Without automobiles, city dwellers lived close…

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Duluth Playgrounds & Sporting Facilities

The role of urban parks started to change nationally by the early 1900s as more people recognized that children in cities needed safe places to play—someplace other than empty lots or busy streets. Reformers began to advocate for the creation of playgrounds for the children, not just because the streets were dangerous, but also because…

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Captain Henry “Gramp” Cleveland

The Duluth Board of Park Commissioners hired sixty-five-year-old Henry Cleveland as the city’s second park superintendent in October 1909. Retaining his position as park superintendent when responsibility for the parks shifted from the park board to the mayor in 1913, Cleveland provided the continuity needed to keep the park system on track. As the growth…

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Henry Helm

Henry Clay Helm served as a member of Duluth’s Board of Park Commissioners from 1891 to 1903 and became the Zenith City’s first park superintendent in 1899. Helm was born in 1844 in Logansport, Indiana. Not much is known about his early years, but when the Civil War broke out he was living in Monticello,…

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