July 19, 1901: “Ghost” stirs up trouble at Mitchell & McClure Sawmill

On this day in Duluth in 1901, the Duluth News Tribune reported that a “ghost” was stalking around the Mitchell McClure sawmill in West Duluth, and that “terrified mill hands quit their jobs” because the spirit had caused a series of accidents during the night shift. The paper reported that the ghost didn’t actually haunt the mill but rather the far end of the lumber yard. Workers considered that the ghost could be simply “a man with a sheet over this head,” but whether man or spirit “that it is real and alive they have no doubt.” One worker even passed the night toting a shotgun in case he saw the apparition. At one point two boys “braver than the rest” chased after the spirit, but it disappeared among the stacks of lumber. The millworkers assured the newspaper that if they encountered the ghost again, it would be “Severely dealt with.” There were no further reports of hauntings at the mill, but later that month another ghost story was proven to be false. Someone had started a rumor that a man who died constructing the Great Northern Railroad’s steel grain elevator in Duluth was haunting the facility. The night watchman had reported objects falling near him while he was on duty, accompanied by moans by groans. The workers themselves cleared up the mystery after noting that the incidents began occurring after one of the night watchmen was fired and stopped right after he left town. Read about Duluth’s historic lumber industry here.

The Mitchell McClure sawmill in West Duluth. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

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