February 7, 1910: “Twin Ports” adopted as nickname of Duluth and Superior

On this day at the Head of the Lakes in 1910, Duluth and Superior decided to call themselves the “Twin Ports.” The previous month the Duluth News Tribune and both Duluth and Superior’s Commercial Clubs announced a contest for a new nickname for the Duluth-Superior region. Commerce on both side of St. Louis Bay was so intertwined, despite the state line dividing them the two communities together acted almost as one, and the federal government essentially considered the St. Louis Bay as one large port. Since before there even was a Duluth or Superior the region had been known as the Head of the Lakes, but local boosters thought the phrase was too much of a mouthful. Hundreds of entires poured in, vying for the $10 gold piece offered as a prize. One entrant suggested “Siamese Twins” because “we cannot be separated.” The contest prize, a $10 gold piece, went to Judge A. J. Vinje of Superior, who was credited as the first person to submit the idea with this note to the newspaper: “In my judgement the common name for Duluth-Superior should be short, easily pronounceable, descriptive and distinctive. As such a name I suggest ‘The Twin Port.’” Superior’s W. J. Leader and Duluth’s O. J. Nerlund had also suggested the name, but their entries had later postmarks than did Vinje’s Duluthian George Kirtley had suggested “the Twin Ports Cities.” Despite both Vinje’s and the contest’s assertion that the name should be shorter than “Head of the Lakes,” the naming committee went ahead and tacked the phrase onto the winning name, and it became “The Twin Ports at the Head of the Lakes” because “it has been so generally used in speaking of Duluth and Superior heretofore…[so] general use makes the longer name preferable for the present. They hoped the longer name would soon become shortened by usage, first to “the Twin Ports” and eventually just “The Ports.” By the way, no one suggested “The Northland.” To read some of the entries that lost, some highly entertaining, click here: TwinPorts_1.21.1910_DNT

This editorial cartoon appeared in the Duluth News Tribune February 10, 1910. (Image: Zenith City Press)