August 15, 1869: Atlantic magazine reporter arrives in Duluth

On this day in the town of Duluth in 1869, Atlantic reporter John Townsend Trowbridge arrived at the Head of the Lakes via a steamboat the citizens of Duluth had sent up the St. Louis River to Thomson, the extant of the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad at the time. He spent a week in Duluth, a year before the Zenith City officially became a city. His first-blush description of the fledgling city was full of promise: “The first sight, to us shivering on deck, was not particularly cheering. But as we passed on into Superior Bay, and a stroke of light from a rift in the clouds fell like a prophetic finger on the little checkered spot brightening in the wilderness, the view became more interesting. The town lies on the lower terraces of wooded hills which rise from the water’s edge, by easy grades, to the distant background of a magnificent mountain range—a truly imposing site, to one who can look beyond those cheap wooden frames—the staging whereby the real city is built—and see the civilization of the future clustering along the shore, and hanging upon the benches of that ample amphitheater.” Read the entire article, “A Week in Duluth” (first published in May of 1870), here.

John Townsend Trowbridge. (Image: Library of Congress)