January 25, 1907: Duluth-Superior Harbor named second busiest in U.S.

On this day in 1907, Major Graham D. Fitch announced that the Duluth-Superior harbor was second only to New York Harbor as the busiest port in the United States, bypassing Boston and Philadelphia. That year’s annual report stated that vessels received and shipped over 29 million tons of cargo worth more than $250 million in 1906, an increase of nearly 29 percent over the previous year—and 924 percent more cargo than the port saw in 1890. A total of 14,854 vessels arrived and departed the Duluth-Superior Harbor in 1906, each one containing an average of 2,417 tons of cargo—over than 250 tons more than vessels carried in 1905. Duluth proved a more popular destination than its sister city across the bay: Ships and boats passing through the Duluth Ship Canal hauled 21,286,633 tons, while the Superior Entry saw 7,884,588 tons move between its piers. Passenger travel was also up, with 96,964 people arriving and departing in 1906, 15,564 more than had done the same in 1905. Unfortunately the reporting failed to mention the tonnage of goods or passengers passing through New York Harbor to provide a comparison.

Detail from a lithographic postcard ca. 1905 showing an aerial view of the Duluth-Superior Harbor. (Image: Zenith City Press)