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October 1, 1891: First run for the Seventh Avenue West Incline

On this day in Duluth in 1891, the Seventh Avenue West Incline went up and down the Duluth hillside for the first time. The incline was the brainchild of the Highland Improvement Company, which was at the time developing Duluth Heights and needed a way for future residents to get to and from downtown Duluth. The Highland Park Tramway, a streetcar system, was built at the same time to serve Duluth Heights residents. Once built, the incline would be operated by the Duluth Street Railway Company. Indeed, two of the passengers on that first run were DSR executives Luther Mendenhall and Guilford G. Hartley. Hartley complained about the lack of fusions: the enclosed railway car was not ready at the time, so passengers on that first trip were actually sitting on a temporary platform atop the trucks on which the rail car would later be installed. The first run, scheduled for 11 a.m., was delayed until 5:45 p.m.. The Duluth News Tribune reported that “The machinery worked to perfection and the engine and road are already a success technically.” Read more about the history of Duluth’s Seventh Avenue West Incline here. And did you know that there was once an incline railway in West Duluth? You can read about it here.

The Seventh Avenue West Incline photographed by Hugh McKenzie in 1904. (Image: University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections)