September 8, 1929: Lake Shore Park Gets a New Name

On this day in Duluth in 1929, Lake Shore Park was rededicated as Leif Erikson Park. The change came at the behest of West End furniture dealers Olsen and Enger. Bert Enger had purchased the Leif Erikson replica Viking ship that was piloted from Bergen, Norway, to Duluth earlier in the year. In part because his business partner Emil Olsen had recently died, Enger gave the ship to Duluth as a gift from the furniture firm on two conditions: that Lake Shore Park be renamed Leif Erikson park, and that the city must never remove the Leif Erikson vessel from the park. Unfortunately, because of rain the dedication ceremony had to take place inside the nearby Duluth Armory, and scheduled speaker Theodore Christianson, governor of Minnesota, was unable to attend. That didn’t stop Mayor Sam Snively and Judge (and former Duluth mayor) Clarence Magney from making grand orations. Magney gave the key address, praising those of Norse blood, Enger, and declaring that Duluth needed more parks, especially along the North Shore. Snively did about the same. In fact, it was likely considered a good thing the governor failed to show, at least for the 400 spectators who also sat through speeches by Minneapolis mayor William Kunze, Duluth city councilor Chris Evans, Superior mayor George Dietrich, Professor Gisle Bothne of the University of Minnesota, Sons of Norway President (and judge) T. O. Gilbert, a few others, including of course Enger himself. Sadly, the city of Duluth has not kept its promise, as the Leif Erikson has not been in the park for several years, and it doesn’t look like anything is being done to get it back in the park anytime soon. Read a  biography of Enger here and a complete history of Lake Shore/Leif Erikson Park here.

This postcard of the Leif Erikson resting in Leif Erikson Park was made between 1928 and 1939. (Image: Zenith City Press)leif