May 14, 1899: Streetcars blown off tracks during labor strike

On this day in 1899, explosives sent two streetcars off their tracks in the midst of a labor strike of workers of the Duluth Street Railway Co.  One explosion occurred at 10:30 p.m. at Twelfth Avenue East and Fourth Street. The conductor reporter the car was blown three feet into the air. When the conductor and motorman ran to the site of the explosion, a crowd had already gathered and “gave the crew a laugh.” The second explosion, also at 10:30 p.m, occurred on a car at Third Street and Twenty-Fourth Avenue West. Three youths loitering nearby were detained as suspects. In both cases the cars were only slightly damaged. Strikers told the Duluth News Tribune they wish whoever was behind the attacks would stop, as it didn’t help their cause. The incidents related to the 1899 strike were minor compared to the violence that broke out during the strikes of 1912. Read about that strike, and more about the history of Duluth’s streetcar system, here.

onductors of the Duluth Street Railway Co. gathered for a group photo, ca. 1900. (Image: Duluth Public Library)