April 24, 1869: First issue of the Minnesotian

On this day in what soon would become Duluth in 1869, Dr. Thomas Foster published the first issue of the Duluth Minnesotian, the Zenith City’s first newspaper. Foster, a rather short and stout man described as “a walking beer barrel,” began editing newspapers when he was 18 and in his spare time studied and later practiced medicine. In the late 1850s he helped form Minnesota’s Republican party. He came to Duluth in 1868 soon after Jay Cook announced that two of his railroads would terminate in Duluth, and Foster saw the promise of its future. On July 4, 1868, he gave a grand oration on Minnesota Point about Duluth’s inevitable success, calling the fledgling town of the future the “Zenith City of the Unsalted Seas.” But Duluth didn’t turn out the way Foster had hoped. By 1872 Foster had had enough. His sons took over his newspaper and for the rest of his life worked as a government “Indian historiographer.” Read the first issue here: Minnesotian_V1I1_4.24.1869

This grainy image is the only known photograph of Dr. Thomas Foster, editor of the Duluth Minnesotian, made February 15, 1870, during the groundbreaking for the Northern Pacific Railroad. (Image: University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections)