April 28, 1914: Twin Ports hit by “hurricane”

On this day in Duluth and Superior in 1914, a major storm featuring gale-force winds struck the Twin Ports. The next day the Duluth News Tribune’s headlines read, “City Swept by one of the worst hurricanes in History.” Incoming boats were forced to turn back and ride out the storm on the open lake—the waters were too rough to navigate the Superior Entry or the Duluth Ship Canal—lighthouses keepers couldn’t even reach Duluth’s South Breakwater Light. The newspaper reported that hundreds of people armed with “cameras and Kodaks” headed to the canal to watch and take photos of the storm, but most were forced to seek shelter in the Corps of Engineers’ building and the moored aerial bridge ferry car. Twenty-five Park Point residents spent the night in the ferry car; others were forced to find rooms in hotels. Twenty-four-year-old laborer Sivo “Stans” Sanden, a resident of the Torvilla Hotel a few blocks north of the canal, bet a companion one dollar that he could walk the North Pier from end to end. Setting out from beneath the aerial bridge, Sanden darted from one light post to the next, hiding behind the posts as the waves crested and running to the next before another breached the canal. About halfway through his adventure, Sanden hesitated; the next wave swept him over the pier and into the canal’s roiling waters. Police and members of the life-saving station arrived quickly, but one of the would-be rescuers could locate his body. Sanden’s story is just one of many tragedies associated with the Duluth Ship Canal, and you can read about some of them here.