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August 7, 1836: Birth of Duluth pioneer Luther Mendenhall

On this day in 1836, future Duluth pioneer Luther Mendenhall was born on a farm in Pennsylvania. He attended the University of Michigan  and served in the Union Army during the Civil War before going to Philadelphia to study law. In the late 1860s he became involved with Jay Cooke’s Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad; Mendenhall was part of a team sent to Duluth to complete the railroad and set up banking houses, hotels, and oversee other Cooke investments. Mendenhall made investments of his own, and with other pioneers financed Duluth’s first blast furnace and established its First Methodist Church. After the Panic of 1873 left Cooke penniless, Mendenhall—instead of leaving bankrupt Duluth—doubled down on the Zenith City and stayed. When Duluth lost its city charter in 1877, Mendenhall acted as treasurer of the reforming community and was instrumental in salvaging Duluth’s financial future. He became president of the Duluth National Bank and later the First National Bank and invested in other enterprises as well.” You can read a brief biography of Mendenhall here, but there is a whole lot of information about Mr. Mendenhall throughout the Zenith City Online archive, so plug his name into our search function and discover one of the men who helped shape the city we enjoy today.

Luther Mendenhall. (Image: Duluth Public Library)denhall