Ray Lewis

Captain Ray T. Lewis. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

A native of New Brunswick, Maine, Ray Lewis (1840–1912) was a ship captain who circumnavigated the globe several times as the master of various clipper ships, including the Kit Carson. His experiences made him publicly question Dr. Frederick Cook’s claim that the famous explorer had indeed reached the north pole. When he quit the sea he turned to farming and real estate in Colorado and North Dakota. “By and by,” he wrote, “I heard of the great possibilities, the bright prospects of Duluth. I have travelled all over the globe, been in every country and am familiar with every coast city of importance in the universe. When I saw Duluth…I said ‘Here is the place of all places.’” He arrived in Duluth in 1884 and made a name for himself in real estate with partner Charles R. Haines. He dabbled in the newspaper business, acquiring the Duluth Journal of Commerce—described as “a pretentious weekly”—in 1885, but within a year he had sold old and the paper was absorbed by the Duluth Weekly Tribune. He also began the “Barnacle Club,” a group “composed of the men of the sea.” A Republican, he replaced Democrat Charles d’Autremont as Duluth’s mayor in 1894, serving one term. He later represented Duluth and Minnesota’s 50th district in the state legislature. He returned to his home town for a nostalgic trip to the family homestead in 1912. There he suffered internal injuries in a carriage accident and died shortly after, under the same roof he was born beneath 72 years earlier.

Story by Tony Dierckins. Originally published on Zenith City Online (2012–2017). Click here for more stories by Tony Dierckins.