Riding Duluth’s Hills on Moving Sidewalks

The invention of moving walkways or sidewalks dates back to the late 1800s. An inventor named Albert Speer of New Jersey received the first patent for an “Endless-Traveling Sidewalk” in 1871. Speer planned to revolutionize transportation in New York City, but his idea was never adopted.


Scientific American, Jan. 16, 1892, p.1.

It wasn’t until the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago that one was built in the U.S. Continue reading

Walt Whitman’s Poem About Duluth?

The Duluth Daily News of March 30, 1892, printed a letter offering an unpublished poem by Walt Whitman. The letter writer claims that Whitman had visited Duluth for his health the previous summer and had been so impressed with the Zenith City that he wrote a poem in praise of Duluth and had sent it to a friend in town. The poem, simply titled “Duluth,” follows:

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German Prisoners of War in Northeastern Minnesota

As World War II continued into 1943, some U.S. industries were experiencing shortages of workers. In Minnesota, the pinch was felt especially acutely in agriculture, food processing, and logging. Women and even children often stepped up to help with the labor shortage in agriculture and food processing. One notable local example was Life09274317-year-old Duluthian Shirley Armstrong, who appeared on the cover of the September 27, 1943, issue of Life magazine because she was working in corn fields near Fairmont, Minnesota. She and several other young women from Duluth were featured in an article about the Women’s Land Army.

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Alexander Miles

Users of early elevators were responsible for opening and closing the doors manually, and sometimes the doors were left open, creating a hazardous situation with the shaft exposed. As Andreas Bernard writes in his 2006 history of elevators:

. . .in the 1880s, manually operated or hinged doors. . .on each floor still frequently misled careless passengers wishing to enter the cab into opening them and falling into the shaft. (Andreas Barnard, Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator, p.31)

Duluthian Alexander Miles helped solve this problem by inventing an improved mechanism for opening and closing elevator doors when the car arrives at or departs the floor. This is just one accomplishment of this successful and creative businessman who lived in Duluth in the late 1800s and was thought at the time to be the wealthiest black man in the Midwest.

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Babe Ruth visits Duluth


Duluth News Tribune11/7/1926

Following the 1926 baseball season, in which the New York Yankees won the American League pennant and lost the World Series in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals, Yankee slugger Babe Ruth went on a twelve-week vaudeville tour. The tour started in Minneapolis, and the next stop was Duluth. Ruth arrived in Duluth early on the morning of Saturday, November 6, 1926, and attended a breakfast in his honor at Hotel Duluth. He was greeted by Mayor Samuel F. Snively, Police Chief E.H. Barber, and Ruth’s friend, Superior resident, and player-manager of the Boston Braves Dave Bancroft.


Duluth News Tribune11/7/1926

BabeRuth5At 10:30 that morning, Ruth appeared for about 2,000 young fans from the Twin Ports at the Lyric Theater, 213 West Superior Street, in a program sponsored by the Duluth News Tribune. He told them stories of his baseball career, gave them the inside picture of the life of a big league ball player, and passed out fifteen autographed baseballs—maybe some Twin Ports resident still has his or her autographed ball?

On Saturday afternoon, Ruth did the first of four performances for adults at the Lyric—2:30, 4:30, 7:10, and 9:20. He repeated the four performances on Sunday, his last day in Duluth. His vaudeville act usually consisted of him telling stories about his career with the Yankees.


Duluth News Tribune11/7/1926

The next day, Ruth reportedly went duck hunting in northern Minnesota with three friends from the Detroit Tigers—outfielders Harry Heilman and Heinie Manush, and Tigers manager George Moriarity. He then continued his vaudeville tour in Fargo, ND.


Duluth Public Library collection


Duluth Public Library collection

Dollar-a-Day Boys: A Musical Tribute to the Civilian Conservation Corps

Groundbreaking Reads logo

Did you know that many of the Minnesota State Parks’ log and stone buildings, sea walls and picnic shelters were built by some of the 29% of Minnesota men who were unemployed during the Great Depression? These men signed up for the Civilian Conservation Corps, part of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. They were given food, lodging, and $25 a month, and in return they fought fires, constructed and maintained trails and telephone lines, and numerous other projects benefiting the citizens of Minnesota.

Join us at Duluth Public Library as author/songwriter Bill Jamerson presents a program of songs and stories about the boys and men of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Monday, July 29, Main Library Green Room,  6:30 pm

Civilian Conservation Corps workers breaking rocks