Duluth’s Lost Outer Harbor

In 2006 a large piece of wooden cribbing washed up at the very northwest corner of Lake Superior in Duluth. Cribbing used in the 19th century was essentially a wood frame made of heavy timber that was sunk and filled with rocks to provide a foundation for docks, canal piers, breakwaters, and other structures. The piece that emerged was likely the foundation for infrastructure built in 1869 and 170: The Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad freight depot and docks, Grain Elevator A, or the breakwater jutting out from Fourth Avenue East. You see, before the ship canal was dug, Duluth’s harbor was on the lake side of Minnesota Point, and it could be a very dangerous place for visiting vessels. Read this week’s dive into the Zenith City Archive, a history of Duluth’s lost outer harbor, here.

A postcard of Duluth’s outer harbor made from a photograph taken in 1871. (Image: Zenith City Press)