July 8, 1890: Opening of the “West Duluth Incline”

On this day in 1890, the Duluth Beltline Railway—aka the “West Duluth Incline” or the “Bay View Incline” began operations. The railway, which allowed people in West Duluth to travel to Bay View and Proctor, ran from a station at Sixty-First Avenue West and Grand Avenue up to the newly developing neighborhood of Bayview Heights at Vinland Street and Seventy-Seventh Avenue West. Like the Seventh Avenue West Incline, a pavilion was planned for the top of the incline in 1893, but never materialized. At first a one-car operation, the incline rose six hundred feet in elevation during the twenty-four minutes it took for the car to travel the three miles of track from the bottom to the top. A Duluth News Tribune story on May 8, 1890 called the railway “the longest of its kind in the world.” In 1892, the newspaper described the view from the top of the railway: A story about the new station boasted of the view from the top of the railway: “…it reaches a beautiful plateau that overlooks West Duluth, all St. Louis Bay and much of the river, West Superior, much of Duluth, Duluth harbor, Minnesota Point and from which you can look out unto the lake as far as the eye can see.” Read a more detailed history of the Duluth Beltline Railway here.

The Duluth Beltline Railway, date unknown. The tower of Longfellow Elementary can be seen in the background. (Image: Duluth Public Library)cline