October 4, 1931: First “Trolley Busses” in Duluth

On this day in Duluth in 1931, the Duluth Superior Transit Company put new vehicles into service: “trackless trolley busses” powered by overhanging wires once used for traditional streetcars. The new busses rode on truck tires, not rails, and could maneuver within 14 feet of the overhead wires. The initial route of the busses, which had room for 36 passengers served the Lakeside/Lester Park neighborhoods, running on Superior Street between Forty-fifth and Sixty-first Avenues East, connecting to traditional streetcars at Forty-fifth Avenue East. It was the beginning of the end for streetcars in the Twin Ports. By the end of the year, all streetcar lines in Superior were gone. Over the next four years, busses would replace streetcars throughout the Zenith City. The last remnant of Duluth and Superior’s once extensive street railway system, the Seventh Avenue West Incline, was dismantled after its last day of operation, Labor Day, 1939. Read the entire history of Duluth’s street railway system here.

One of Duluth’s trolley buses pictured next to a streetcar shortly after they new vehicles were introduced in 1931. (Image: Duluth Public Library)