November 25, 2002: Caravan moves patients out of Nopeming Care Center 

On this day in Duluth in 2002, a caravan of buses and vans carried 151 patients, 100 of which suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease or severe dementia from Nopeming Care Center to the Chris Jensen Center. According to historian Dan Turner, the center had opened in May 1912 as the Nopeming Sanatorium, a facility for those who suffered from tuberculosis, after a caravan of horse-drawn carriages carried nearly 50 Duluthians who had contracted the dread disease. Nopeming, Ojibwe for “out in the woods,” was an appropriate name for the facility’s isolated setting West of Gary and New Duluth. The facility served tuberculosis patients until the mid 1950s, when the disease was all but eradicated, and in 1971 was officially designated a nursing home. Nopeming was very costly to the county, and therefore increasingly controversial. Between 1990 and 2000 the facility lost nearly $3 million. It was not aging well, either: county engineers estimated that the existing buildings would require at least $5 million to stay up to code. St. Louis County opted in 2002 to close the facility. There is much more to the story of Nopeming, and you can read Turner’s entire history of the facility here.

Hand-drawn map of the Nopeming campus from Dan Turner’s collection.