February 8, 1910: Beer wagon goes through Ice on St. Louis River

On this day in Duluth in 1910, former Third Ward alderman Maurice McGinnis was driving a rig for Superior’s Northern Brewery over the frozen St. Louis River when the ice gave way. Horses, wagon, driver, and beer all plunged into the river. McGinniss managed to pull himself out of the frigid waters and “suffered no ill effects from his icy bath.” The horses did not fair as well—all drowned. McGinnis was on his way to deliver beer to Henry Ward’s saloon “near the steel plant,” which was under construction next to what would become Morgan Park. The beer got away as well. Despite the deaths of the “valuable team” of horses, the Duluth News Tribune seemed more concerned with the loss of beer. Two days after the accident the newspaper printed a story under the bold headline “NO EFFORT TO RECOVER BEER KEGS FROM RIVER.” The paper reported that there was little chance of finding the kegs under the ice, and that they were likely already carried away downstream by the river’s current. It then pondered the upcoming thaw: “In the spring, the time the poet says a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love, there are expected to be a large number of lovers of the amber fluid scattered along the St. Louis searching for the missing kegs.”

A lithograph of Superior’s Northern Brewing Co., ca 1914. (Image: Pete Clure)