October 14, 1922: Miller Trunk Highway Opens

On this day in Duluth in 1922, the Miller Trunk Highway—aka State Highway No. 11—opened to traffic, allowing for safer and faster automobile travel between Duluth and the Iron Range. The road was named in honor of Charles G. Miller who as county commissioner worked tirelessly to build a road that would link range cities with Duluth. Mayor Sam Snively and other Duluth civic and business leaders represented the Zenith City, and Snively’s car broke the tape—placed under a triumphal arch dubbed the “Arch of Welcome”— to symbolically open the road to the public. The third car contained Otto Swanstrom, president of the Duluth Automobile Club, and G. H. Dunning, chairman of the chamber of commerce; both groups had been instrumental in making the highway a reality. Dunning said the road’s opening was “one of historic importance to northern Minnesota. The opening of this stretch of paved highway reaching from Duluth to the range, marks a new era in the transportation section.” Even Minnesota Governor J. A. O. Preus made the trip from St. Paul for the celebration. The Duluth News Tribune called the road “Northeastern Minnesota’s Appian Way.” The celebration in Eveleth included a luncheon, street dance, carnival, and an exhibition football team between Eveleth and Duluth Central high schools—all capped off by a grand ball in the evening. Read more about Miller here.

A postcard of Miller Trunk Highway, made possible by intrepid traveling salesman Charles G. Miller, made from a photograph taken shortly after the highway was first paved in 1922. (Image: Zenith City)miller

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