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October 9, 1889: West Duluth’s incline railway begins operation

On this day in Duluth in 1889, the Duluth Beltline Railway, a funicular railway like the Seventh Avenue West Incline, first began moving passengers between West Duluth and Bayview Heights. Soon locals were calling it either the “West Duluth Incline” or “Bay View Incline.” Built at a cost of $107,000 (over $2.6 million today) and pulled by 15,000 feet of cable, the railway ran from a station at Sixty-First Avenue West and Grand Avenue up to Vinland Street and Seventy-Seventh Avenue West. The incline rose six hundred feet in elevation and took twenty-four minutes to travel the three miles of track from the bottom to the top. A Duluth News Tribune story on May 8, 1890 called the railway “the longest of its kind in the world.” When the railway opened for regular operation on July 8, 1890, a round trip fare cost fifteen cents. Like the Seventh Avenue West Incline, a pavilion was planned for the top of the incline in 1893, but never materialized. Despite early success, the incline ceased operation in 1916 due to lack of ridership. Power lines now mark the railway’s former location. Read more about West Duluth’s incline here.

The Duluth Beltline Railway, date unknown. The tower of Longfellow Elementary can be seen in the background. (Image: Duluth Public Library)incline