September 19, 1926: Duluth Eskimos win their first and only home game of 1926

On this day in Duluth in 1926, the NFL’s Duluth Eskimos defeated the Kansas City Cowboys 7–0 at Athletic Park, and then never played another game at Duluth for the rest of their legendary 29-game season. The struggling league had designated both squads as traveling teams, in part because they were distant from other NFL teams, most of which represented cities along the Great Lakes and east coast. Also, the Eskimo’s Ernie Nevers was already a nationally known athletic with star power, and the Cowboys knew how to put on a show. The Cowboys arrived five days earlier and spent their time practicing and scrimmaging local high school teams. According to Eskimo historian Chuck Frederick, “On Saturday, September 18, the Cowboys displayed the pizazz that led the NFL to designate the franchise a road team. In every town they visited, they rented horses and marched, in full regalia, to the stadium, with players from the other team participating as well. One march down Broadway Avenue in New York attracted upwards of fifty thousand spectators. In Duluth they marched along West Superior Street from downtown to the hastily renovated stadium. Duluthians ate it up.” Despite manager Dewey Scanlon’s promise that “Ernie Nevers will put all his resources on the field in an attempt to win the game—and by a comfortable score,” it was end Jack Underwood, a Hinkley native, who picked up a Cowboy’s fumble and walked into the end zone for the game’s only touchdown. Over the next four months the Eskimos covered 17,000 miles playing 13 regular season and 16 exhibition games. Learn more about Duluth’s legendary NFL team here.

The 1926 Duluth Eskimos (a.k.a. “Ernie Nevers’ Eskimos”) posing in their custom-made mackinaw jackets at training camp in Two Harbors, Minnesota (even though the photo identifies the location as “Duluth”; both locations are in doubt as neither town was known to have a facility like the one the team is standing before). From left: Ole Haugsrud (owner), Walt “Chet” Gayer, Dewey Scanlon, Walt Kiesling, Russ Method, “Jock” Murray, “Porky” Rundquist, Joe Rooney, Ernie Nevers, Art Johnson, Jack Underwood, “Cobb” Rooney, Bill Stein, Johnny “Blood” McNally, James Manion, “Oke” Carlson, and Paul Fitzgibbon (not shown: Charles “Doc” Kelly, “Red” Sullivan, “Doc” Williams, “Red” Quam, Jimmy Manion, and Wally Gilbert). Photo courtesy the Two Harbors Public Library via the Lake County Historical Society.eskimos