May 25, 1905: Duluth city engineer becomes Governor’s Aid de Camp

On this day in 1905, Duluth City Engineer Thomas McGilvray became Aide de Camp to Minnesota Governor John A. Johnson and was given the title of “Colonel.” As Duluth’s city engineer, McGilvray first brought for the idea of bridging the ship canal with a transfer bridge like the one Ferninand Arnodin built over the River Sien at Rouen, France, and brought his friend C. A. P. Turner in to design the actual bridge. (McGilvray and his business partner William Patton oversaw much of the bridge’s construction.) McGilvray himself missed the Governor’s announcement, as he was away on a fishing trip with his wife Rosie. The “promotion” came as a surprise to McGilvray, who said he had “no conception whatever of the duties of the office” and treated reporters to tales of his and Rosie’s success reeling in brook trout. The city engineering department made a fitting gift for a Colonel by presenting McGilvray with a silver saber. Later in life, McGilvray’s pal’s called him “Colonel” in jest. Read more about McGilvray here.

Thomas McGilvray. (Image: St. Louis County Law Library)

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