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November 7, 1894: Village of Proctorknott established

On this day in Duluth in 1894, the village of Proctorknott—which surrounded the new Duluth, Missable & Northern Railroad’s rail yards—was established. The town is named for J. Proctor Knott, a legislator and (later) governor of Kentucky who in 1871 made the famous congressional speech, The Untold Delights of Duluth, which mocked the Zenith City. But it was the son of a former Kentucky governor, also a Confederate calvary officer, who founded the township. Beriah Magoffin III moved to Minnesota after the war, where he served a state legislator representing Ramsey County. He visited Duluth several times in the 1880s, buying up real estate. In 1886 he purchased the land now occupied by the railyards and Proctor for $12 an acre. He and his wife visited Duluth in 1890—and they brought J. Proctor Knott with them. Knott was among a group of investors that sold 55,000 acres of Kentucky coal fields to Duluth’s Merritt family, who were building the DM&N to bring ore from their mines on the Mesabi Range to their ore dock under construction in Oneota. The DM&N purchased flat land owned by Magoffin atop the St. Louis River valley for its sorting yard, headquarters, and maintenance facilities. A tent-town called Missabe Yard sprang up around the rail yard on the western edge of Duluth’s soon-to-be-named Bayview Heights neighborhood. Magoffin moved his family to Duluth from Kentucky in 1892 and established Proctorknott two years later. The village was formally separated from Oneota Township on January 22, 1895, and in 1904 the United States Postal Service shortened its name to Proctor. The village became a city on July 17, 1939. Read more about the history of Proctor here.

J. Proctor Knott. (Image: Public Domain)