August 26, 1921: Bear blocks streetcar in Hunters Park

On this day in Duluth in 1921, a large black bear forced a streetcar to stop in Hunters Park at Hawthorne Street along the Woodland Car Line. According to the Duluth News Tribune, the “bruin shuffled from the woods near the track and proceeded to cross the street in the path of the car. As he was crossing the rails, the motorman said, he stopped and looked around at the approaching car with mild concern. The car drew to within 20 feet of the bear and stopped. Apparently certain of his safety, the bear continued his observation of the car for several minutes and then took his awkward way across the track to the woods on the opposite side. The bear failed to frighten passengers on the car who viewed him with curiosity.” That same day the bear—or perhaps another bear—paid a visit to the Brighton Beach Tourist Camp on the shore of Lake Superior. There he did indeed throw a scare into two autotourists from Marinesco, Michigan, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Ormes. Mrs. Ormes told the reporter that the bear “ambled from the woods to within 50 feet of the camp without showing the slightest fear of us. Mr. Ormes shouted and made gestures for fully ten minutes before [the bear] finally turned and went back into the woods. He was the largest bear either Mr. Ormes or myself has ever seen.” The Ormes’s then treated themselves to an evening at the circus, returning to find their camp “in a state of confusion…everything portable was strewn about.” But the only thing missing was a jar of peanut butter. They blamed the theft on the bear and left for Hibbing the next day.

When the land around Woodland Avenue, from Hunter’s Park up to Woodland Park, was first developed, it was still heavily forested, and encounters with wild animals were common, as this humorous postcard from 1905 illustrates. (Image: Zenith City Press)