July 4, 1870: Pioneer Jerome Cooley arrives in Duluth

On this day in Duluth in 1870, Jerome E. Cooley first arrived in the Zenith City. Cooley would go on to form the Lavaque-Cooley fisheries, which set up shop at roughly the same location as the back of the Paulucci Building in Canal Park. The business was later purchased by A. Booth & Co. This is how Cooley describes his first sighting of the big lake: “On July 4, 1870, I first saw Lake Superior, and a country road where Superior Street now is, a few winding tracks up the hill, and a road down Minnesota Point on St. Croix Avenue [today’s Canal Park Drive]. The marsh where Lake Avenue was afterwards made was not at that time filled in…. They were then digging the canal, and St. Croix Avenue was the regular thoroughfare. The marsh covered all the space from Michigan Street to the canal, with a bank of gravel near the lake shore, where the road was constructed. When the old Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad was built in here, and constructed their dock at the foot of Third Avenue, East, they cut off a portion of the lake where the City Hall, Forward’s and Totman’s buildings now stand [2nd Avenue East and Superior Street]. The railroad came in on piles from Rice’s Point…. Col. Joshua Culver [Duluth’s first mayor] had built what was called the Citizen’s dock out into the lake, about two blocks this side of the canal [adjacent to today’s Morse Street]. The Union Improvement and Elevator Company had built Elevator A at the foot of Fifth Avenue East [actually, it was at the foot of Fourth Avenue East], with enough of a breakwater to protect boats, when there was no wind. But the first wind that came…washed the most of it away, and the steamer St. Paul, which was lying at the dock, broke loose from her moorings.” You can learn more about Cooley here.

Jerome Cooley. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

Subscribe to This Day in Duluth!