January 31, 1909: Duluth News Tribune presents plans to expand Cullum Park

On this day in Duluth in 1909, a grand new plan for Duluth’s lakefront park, then called Cullum Park, filled the front page of the News Tribune. Inspired by Chicago’s example, which since the late 1800s had been adding fill to its lakefront to create park land, the newspaper proposed that the City of Duluth acquire the rest of the Lake Superior shoreline from Cullum Park’s western border at Eighth Avenue East all the way to the ship canal, build a breakwater about five hundred feet out from the shore, and fill in the lake between the wall and the existing shore. G. W. Preston, advertising manager of the News Tribune, received credit as the original creator of the idea. As the newspaper explained, “The plan would be to have the government fix a harbor line where one does not now exist, to construct a concrete sea wall to mark the outer limits of the park and driveway and by a filling-in process to make solid ground where now there is water, then to go ahead with the beautification of the grounds with walks and driveways, with trees and shrubbery, fountains and flowerbeds and all things that go to make up an ideal public park.” Proponents of the plan suggested that the breakwater could be constructed from boulders blasted from Point of Rocks, which engineers were working to eliminate because the massive rock outcrop obstructed traffic and divided the city in two. Sand dredged from the harbor could be used as fill. The result would be forty-five acres of new land that could be turned into a beautiful park. The park was renamed Lake Shore Park, and later Leif Erikson Park, but Preston’s plan was never executed. A modern reflection of the plan can be seen in today’s Lakewalk from the canal to Leif Erikson Park together with Lake Place Park and Sister City Park. Read more about the history of Leif Erikson Park here.

The Duluth News Tribune’s sketch of the newspaper’s proposed expansion of Cullum Park, today’s Leif erikson Park. (Image: Zenith City Press)