Posts by Tony Dierckins

The History of Duluth & St. Louis County, Minnesota

by Dwight Woodbridge and John Pardee (1910) In 1910 C. F. Cooper & Co. of Chicago published The History of Duluth & St. Louis County, Minnesota, by Dwight Woodbridge and John Pardee. This book covers the history of Duluth spanning from the days of the voyageurs through 1910 and includes a year-by-year account of Duluth’s…

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African Americans in Duluth

Duluth’s earliest African American residents were also part Ojibwe. In the 1850s, seven of Duluth’s eleven African American residents were members of the George Bonga family. Bonga was the son of Pierre Bonga, a free Black fur trader, and his Ojibwe wife. Bonga, who legend says was born on Minnesota Point in either 1799 or…

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Duluth’s Immigrant Patterns 1880–1920

During the 1880s waves of immigrants began to pour into Duluth and would continue doing so for the next thirty years. Some were recruited for specific skilled jobs, such as Norwegian and Swedish fisherman. Some were well-educated western Europeans—Protestant English, Scots, and Germans, mostly—and came to Duluth, as did Yankees from the eastern U.S., with…

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Immigrant Sentiment in the 1890s

Many in the “servant class,” who tended to the needs of the wealthy, were Irish Catholic. Anti-Catholic sentiment ran high among Prohibitionist Protestants of the day, who considered the Irish Catholics prone to alcoholism. The fact that (for the most part) the Protestants were wealthy and the Catholics were not, further divided the two groups.…

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Native Americans in Duluth

Long before European settlement—perhaps thousands of years—the head of the lakes was home to several Native American tribes. By the time the land that is now Duluth opened for settlement, the Ojibwe had already forced the Dakota west and had established settlements at Spirit Island, Spirit Mountain, Indian Point, Rice’s Point, and Minnesota Point. The…

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Duluth’s Bowery & Duluth’s gateway Urban Renewal Program

When Duluth’s Union Depot was constructed in 1892, it helped cement Fifth Avenue West’s status as an “entrance” to the Zenith City. The grand Lyceum Theatre and luxury hotels like the St. Louis and the Spalding already stood nearby, as did many other, lower-rent hotels and saloons, many of which catered to lumberjacks, miners, and…

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The Eastern Expansion of I-35

The expansion of Interstate 35 through Duluth was planned as early as 1958, although the project wasn’t completed until the 1990s. The plans changed many times over the years, and portions of it were highly controversial, none more than the section that would cut through downtown Duluth and stretch to Twenty-Sixth Avenue East. Because of…

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Slab Town at Missabe Junction

Duluth’s Slabtown neighborhood, actually a subsection of the West End, housed a variety of low-income families from varied ethnic backgrounds, including Finns, Norwegians, Germans, Swedes, Poles, and French. The neighborhood stretched from roughly Twenty-Sixth to Thirtieth Avenues West and from Michigan Street to St. Louis Bay, centered on the Twenty-Seventh Avenue West Bridge. Immigrants came…

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Swede Town, aka the Garfield Avenue District

Rice’s Point, like Minnesota Point, is a large sandbar created by silt carried toward the lake by the St. Louis River. It had been a summer home to some local Ojibwe—and the location of at least one native burial site—for at least 100 years before Superior pioneer Orin Rice moved his family across the bay…

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Duluth Heights

Much of the damage caused by the historic 2012 Duluth flood was caused by blockages in subterranean culverts where Duluthians had long ago forced creeks underground. One such creek was Brewery Creek, which forced itself to the surface along the path of Seventh Avenue East. Brewery Creek, along with Buckinghams Creek, both served to drain…

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