August 16, 1965: Fire destroys historic Duluth warehouse and thirty automobiles

On this day in Duluth in 1965, fire destroyed a warehouse at the southeast corner of Third Avenue East and Michigan Street. At the time the building was owned by Arrowhead Distributors, Inc., who leased it as a warehouse to Verne D. Johnson, who used it to store cars and other items related to his Oldsmobile dealership one block up at 302 East Superior Street. A fire of unknown origin began inside the building shortly before 6 p.m. Shortly thereafter the Duluth Fire Department was called in. According to the Duluth News Tribune it took until 7 a.m. the next day for eighty firefighters and “every fire rig in the city except two” to control the flames, fueled by the gasoline in thirty new cars, all with topped-off tanks. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries. The building, valued at $10,000, was a total loss, and the paper reported the value of the cars at $100,000. The structure was built on the site of Grain Elevator Q of the St. Paul & Duluth Railroad, successor to the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad, which first built a freight depot between Second and Third Avenues East along Michigan Street in 1870. The grain elevator burned down in 1886, and its ruins were converted into a curling and skating rink that was later used as a warehouse by hardware wholesaler Zalk-Josephs Co.  Zalk-Josephs also owned the historic 1870 LS&M freight depot.

This photo accompanied the Duluth News Tribune story of the August 16, 1965, fire that destroyed a historic warehouse between Third and Fourth Avenues East along Michigan Street.

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