May 10, 1873: Most of Fremont Township floats away

On this day in Duluth in 1873, much of the Fremont Township site floated out onto lake superior through the Duluth Ship Canal. Fremont was located between Minnesota Point and Rice’s Point along the Bay, essentially where the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center, Great Lakes Aquarium, and Bayfront Park stand. But the bay looked far different then than it does today. In the 1870s, much of the are was a wetlands, mostly water and “floating Islands” made up of driftwood and accumulating vegetable matter. One large island in the bay was named “Meander Island” because it was always moving with th winds and currents. After heavy rains on May 10, the waters of the St. Louis river flushed many of the islands out the Duluth Ship Canal, including a chunk of of Fremont Island, once 1,200 feet long and 400 feet wide. Pioneers Charles Johnson, Walter Van Brunt, and two others gave chase in a rowboat. You can read the rest of the story here or about all eleven of Duluth’s original townships here.

Charles Johnson’s sketch of Fremont Island on Lake Superior after it was carried through the canal after a rainstorm. (Image: Zenith City Press)