December 9, 1885: Western Duluth developer Charles E. Lovett first arrives in Duluth

On this day in Duluth in 1885, Charles E. Lovett arrived in the Zenith City for the first time. Lovett had long before set his sights on Duluth—particularly on the riches that could be made from West Duluth real estate. In a speech he gave many years later, he recounted his first day in Duluth describing how West Duluth was merely slash-cut land, and Grand Avenue was a corduroy road through tall bushes. He moved to Duluth on December 2, 1886, and eventually went on to be West Duluth’s biggest booster, owning thousands of acres there and in New Duluth, Smithville and Fond du Lac, as well as properties elsewhere in St. Louis County. C. E. Lovett & Co. was the instigator of one of the most interesting land rushes ever witnessed in Duluth. On April 17, 1890, the company announced that the Sixth Division of West Duluth would go on the market. The sale was advertised to begin at 9 a.m. However, the line of paid place-holders began to gather at the real estate office at 7 p.m. the night before, including some interesting characters the Duluth News Tribune described as “sneaking like an Ogalalla Sioux” and bearing names like “Hustling Henry” and “Oklahoma Joe.” A Duluth News Tribune article published the next day described the scene: “By 9 o’clock there is a dense mass of hustling, howling, real estate flesh and bones outside the door, which is soon thrown open and then the fun begins. It was the intention of the managers of the sale to admit only five persons at a time but intention counted for little with the crowd who swarmed into the office, smashing the glass in the door and several railings near desks. C. T. Abbott was quite badly cut on the hand in his desperate struggle for wealth and others were bruised.” Sales at the end of the day amounted to $142,000—over $3.6 million today—and every lot on Central Avenue in the Sixth Division was sold. Learn more about Lovett here.

One of many advertisements for C. E. Lovett’s real estate investments in West Duluth. Lovett convinced the owner of Marinette Iron Works to relocate his entire company from Marinette, Wisconsin, to Duluth in 1890. (Image: Zenith City Press)lovett