January 6, 1872: Duluth mayor tagged for city’s first speeding ticket

On this day in Duluth in 1872, the Minnesotian reported that Mayor Clinton Markell and his party received the first ticket for speeding in Duluth—and possibly in the state. Just weeks earlier the city government had passed an ordinance making it illegal for those on horseback or in a horse-powered wagon to cross over the Lake Avenue Viaduct, which carried traffic over the railroad tracks south of Michigan Street, faster than a “walk.” On January 1, 1872, Markell—along with former mayor J. B. Culver, town of Duluth founder William Nettleton (whom Markell had defeated in the mayoral election), County Attorney (and future mayor and district court judge) J. D. Ensign, and two others—hired a four-horse sleigh from Pratt & Co. to take them about the city making “calls” on their fellow citizens. A teamster named Trowbridge was at the reigns, and his team “got into a ‘tantrum’” while crossing the bridge, which “propelled them over it a good deal faster than a ‘walk.’” The spectacle was witnessed by “that indefatigable police officer” Thompson, who made a complaint against Trowbridge the next day. The driver and his employer were fined a total of $8, and according to the newspaper, “every man in the sleigh cheerfully ‘forked’ over his share of the penalty.”

Clinton Markell. (Image: Duluth Public Library)