Originally published August 2014
This month’s Ghost Sign, photographed by Zenith City Online webmeister and Substreet.org proprietor Dan Turner, adorns what has become known as the “Lefarge Cement Silo,” just west of Bayfront Park along Pier B. The site has been in the news often in the past few years, as developers struggle to finance a planned hotel complex that would include leaving the silos standing. According to Devan Burnett of Lake Voice News, “In the early 20th century, the Huron Portland Cement Company was rapidly expanding a cement empire that would form the foundation of an infrastructure boom in the United States as lumber gave way to concrete. Increased cement demand in Duluth warranted a terminal to link the city with Huron’s flagship cement mill on the shores of Lake Huron in Alpena, Mich.” The Duluth facility was built in 1917 and the first shipment went out the following year. Burnett’s story explains the facility’s history in this tightly packed paragraph: “The plant enjoyed decades of productivity under the Huron Portland Cement Company, later by the Huron Portland Cement Division of the National Gypsum Company, and lastly the LaFarge cement company in the late 1980s and 1990s. The facility was eventually shuttered in the 2000s. LaFarge’s operations continue in Superior.” You can learn even more abut the facility on Dan Turner’s Substreet.org, here.
Update: Since this photo first posted, the Lafarge site has been developed into the Pier B Resort, featuring Silos Restaurant, named for the cement silos, which have been left standing.