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.

SciAm1

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

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Babe Ruth visits Duluth

Ruth2

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.

Ruth3

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.

Ruth4

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.


lyric3

Duluth Public Library collection

lyric4

Duluth Public Library collection

Ye Olde Corner Grocery

Brown's Grocery Store, Duluth

Brown’s Grocery Store, Duluth
Photo: Minnesota Reflections
(http://reflections.mndigital.org/)

At one time, you could find a corner store in just about any Duluth neighborhood.   The 1973 Duluth City Directory lists 69 stores under the Groceries and Meats—Retail heading.  The list includes a few large chain markets like Super Valu, National Food Stores, and Piggly Wiggly, but the vast majority at that time was one-of-a-kind family owned neighborhood shops.  From east to west, smaller markets like Tonkin’s Grocery, London Road Market, Taran’s Food Market, Seventh Street Groceries, Plets Grocery, Tony’s Market, Ideal Market, and Mac’s Grocery dotted the map.

Continue reading

Minnesota Digital Library

Historical Duluth documents from the Duluth Public Library’s Duluth Collection, including atlases, maps, and books, are now included in the Minnesota Digital Library’s Minnesota Reflections web site. Below are a few sample images.

The entire collection can be viewed at: http://reflections.mndigital.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p16022coll6

From the book Souvenir of Duluth, MinnesotaFrom The Booster Book : West Duluth in 1916

 

From The Booster Book : West Duluth in 1916

  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

From the 1890 Atlas of the City of Duluth, St. Louis Co., Minnesota, and Vicinity

From the book Have a Look at Our City : Postcards of Duluth and Advertisements of Duluth Businesses

Early drawings of Enger Tower

Proposed sketch of Enger Tower, September 1937, by architect A. Reinhold Melander.

 ____________________________________________________________

New proposal for Enger Tower by architect A. Reinhold Melander, December 1937. 

Both drawings are gifts to the library from Donald Melander.

Clinton F. Russell, 1895 – 1961, Blind Golf Champion

From the Duluth Public Library slide collection

Clinton Francis Russell was born in Duluth on October 8, 1895. His parents were Newell F. Russell and Isabelle J. Russell. Newell was born on a farm near Rush City, Minnesota, on July 16, 1869, and moved to the Duluth area in 1888. In that year, he founded, along with Henry Bridgeman, the Bridgeman-Russell Co. Isabelle came to Duluth from Michigan about 1890 and she and Newell were married in November of 1891. They had three children–Earl C., Clinton F., and Myrtle. They lived at several addresses in Duluth–309 Mesaba Avenue, 453 Mesaba Avenue (Munger Terrace), 5518 London Road, and 4440 London Road.

Clinton attended public elementary schools in Duluth and Duluth Central High School. In 1916, he began studies at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. At the outbreak of World War I, Clinton enlisted in the Army. Following the war, he returned to Syracuse to resume his studies. Clinton married Marion Ruth Jones, who went by Ruth, in Port Byron, New York, in 1920. They moved to Duluth and lived at 2132 East Fifth Street. Clinton worked at various jobs for the Bridgeman-Russell Co.

Clinton lost his sight around 1924 in an accident in which an automobile tire exploded in his face as he was repairing it. He didn’t play golf for several years after the accident, but tried it again when he was visiting relatives in California. He began playing at Ridgeview Country Club in Duluth and started taking lessons from the pro, Sammy Belfore. He began to count on his caddy teeing up the ball, adjusting his stance for direction, and lining up the club face. Some of his caddies at Ridgeview were Jim Koehler Sr., Dick Kohlbry, Bruce Schwartz, Jerry Weld, and Bob Hammerstrom.

Continue reading

Forgotten Duluthians well remembered….

Check out the review of Forgotten Duluthians on Jim Heffernan’s blog at:

http://www.jimheffernan.org/2011/05/forgotten-duluthians-well-remembered.html

Forgotten Duluthians, a 2010 NEMBA nominee, was written by David Ouse, the library’s manager of reference services. The book profiles 39 people from Duluth, and their accomplishments. Included are actors and actresses, dancers, philosophers, writers, space scientists, diplomats, artists, Garfield the Cat (voice of), and Joe DiMaggio’s first wife.

Forgotten Duluthians is available for purchase at the Main Library Circulation Desk, and at both branch libraries. The cost is $14.95 plus tax. The book can also be purchased on the library website through the Gift Shop. All proceeds from sales go to the library.

Sidney Buchman, 1902-1975, Film Producer, Writer

From the 1919 Zenith Central Yearbook

 

Sidney Robert Buchman (shown here in 1919) was born on March 27, 1902, in Duluth. His parents were Robert Buchman and Sarah (Zalk) Buchman. Robert was born in Russia in 1874, immigrated to the U.S., and settled in Duluth around 1895. He worked as a clothing merchant and for a while owned his own store, Buchman and Josephs, at 116 West Superior Street. On February 20, 1898, he married Sarah Zalk in a wedding ceremony in the large second-floor hall in the Kalamazoo Building at 18 West Superior Street in Duluth. As the Duluth News Tribune related the next day, “seldom if ever before in the history of Duluth has there been a larger attendance at a Jewish wedding.” Mayor Truelsen was one of the 200 guests and gave a speech congratulating the new couple. Sarah Zalk was the daughter of Max Zalk, who was born in Poland and moved to Duluth in 1884. He was president of the Duluth Iron & Metal Co.

Robert and Sarah lived at 502 East First Street, later moving for a while to Superior, Wisconsin, and then back to Duluth in homes at 421 First Avenue West, 120 East Fourth Street, and finally building their own brick home at 110 West Fifth Street. Robert continued to work in retail clothing sales but eventually took a job in his father-in-law’s metal business. They had four children: Moses, born on March 22, 1900; Sidney; Marian, born on February 13, 1910; and Harold, born on June 24, 1912. Sidney apparently had a typical childhood and earned money with a paper route in the Central Hillside. He later complimented the area, saying that he hadn’t realized that he had “grown up in one of the real melting pots of the world” that demonstrated “complete race harmony.” Sidney was a popular and successful student at Central High School. He was active as an athlete, participating on the football and track teams and serving as captain of the basketball team in his senior year. He also was sports editor of the school newspaper and business manager of the senior class play, and he won the Wallace Cup for oratory in his junior year. Sidney graduated from Central in 1919 and was chosen to be a commencement speaker. From high school, Sidney went on to the University of Minnesota, enrolling in the pre-med program. He left the Twin Cities after a year of studies, however. His parents and siblings moved to New York City in October of 1919, and Sidney moved there in 1920, enrolling at Columbia University where he later received his degree. After graduating, Sidney traveled to England in February of 1924 to study at Oxford. He left Oxford after a few weeks, later referring to the rigid caste system of the English university. He traveled for a while in France and Italy, worked at the Old Vic Theatre in London, and then returned to New York City. For the next eight years he worked as a playwright in New York and had two plays produced—This One Man and Storm Song. Continue reading

Enger Park Golf Course Opens, 1927.

Judge C.R. Magney hits the first ball at Enger Park, July 2, 1927. From Duluth News Tribune, July 3, 1927.

Judge C.R. Magney hits the first ball at Enger Park, July 2, 1927. From Duluth News Tribune, July 3, 1927.

Duluth’s Enger Municipal Golf Course opened on July 2, 1927. The course was named for Bert J. Enger, who donated $50,000 to the city for the development of park and recreational facilities. The original course was nine holes, but a second nine was added within a couple of years. In addition to speeches, the dedication ceremonies featured an 18-hole medal tournament and driving contests for both men and women. Judge Clarence R. Magney, the former mayor, drove the first ball from the No. 1 tee.

New Clubhouse at Enger Park, 1927. From Duluth News Tribune, July 1, 1927.

The Darling Observatory 1917 – 1972

Darling Observatory, ca. 1930. From the Duluth Public Library slide collection

 
John Henry Darling, a civil engineer from Michigan, came to Duluth in 1884 when he was appointed principal assistant engineer for harbor improvements on Lake Superior, Duluth district. He was heavily involved in the development of the Duluth harbor, the piers, and the breakwater. When he retired in 1913, he focused his energies on travel and his hobby of astronomy.
 
 In 1915, Mr. Darling asked the Duluth City Council for permission to construct, at his own expense, an observatory that would be open to the public to allow people to view celestial objects and to educate them in astronomy. The Council granted him the necessary permission on December 6, 1915, and construction began the following year on a site at Ninth Avenue West and Third Street, next to a city playground and near Mr. Darlings home at 532 West Third Street. Complications regarding the completion of the steel dome caused delays, but the observatory opened in May of 1917, with a long waiting list of people interested to use it. The total cost of the building and equipment was about $12,000, paid entirely by Mr. Darling.   
 
The Darling Observatory had a steel dome 19 feet in diameter and a nine-inch refracting telescope. The building was open six or seven evenings each month for public viewing and lectures on astronomy. Mr. Darling personally oversaw the operations for years and, when he grew too old, hired an assistant. When Mr. Darling died in 1942, at the age of 95, the building was turned over to the city of Duluth. It later became the property of UMD, which operated the observatory into the 1960s. The building was torn down in 1972.

Mr. Darling and nine-inch refracting telescope, ca. 1930. From Popular Astronomy, November 1930.

Enger Tower Dedication

With the impending visit to Duluth of Norway’s King Harald V this October, and the plans for a rededication of Enger Tower at the same time, we wanted to show the program from the original dedication of Enger Tower on June 15, 1939.

Norway’s Crown Prince Olav and Princess Martha (Harald’s parents) arrived in Duluth in the afternoon to dedicate the tower. After his address, in which he honored Bert J. Enger for his generous gifts to the city, the Prince unveiled a plaque to be affixed to the tower which read:

Enger Observation Tower
To the memory of Bert J. Enger
1864-1931
Native of Norway
Citizen of Duluth

It was estimated by the Duluth Herald that 5,000 people attended the ceremony. Afterwards, people were allowed to enter and inspect the tower.
Click on the images of the program below to enlarge.

Enger Tower dedication program

Enger Tower dedication program

Bygones

Local news from 20 and 40 years ago from the Duluth News-Tribune. This column appears daily Monday through Saturday in the Duluth News-Tribune. Researched and written by the Reference Staff at the Duluth Public Library.

News Tribune
June 12, 1967

Gov. Harold E. LeVander has announced the appointment of Jack B. Arnold of Duluth as the governor’s representative to the newly created Upper Great Lakes Regional Commission. The commission was formed to aid the economic development of the region.

Fairmount Park will be the site of the annual school patrol picnic tomorrow morning. Duluth police patrolman William Kehoe, head of the school patrol program, said the day’s highlight will be the awarding of bicycles to a boy and girl.

News Tribune
June 12, 1987

All 95 tickets for the Concorde jetliner’s July 26 90-minute sightseeing flight over Lake Superior and Canada have been sold, according to Dan Russell, executive director of the Duluth Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. The tickets cost $675 each.

Members of the Rotary Club of Duluth voted yesterday to allow women to join the organization. Club President Dave Allison refused to disclose the exact count but said many more than a two-thirds majority of “yes” votes were cast.

Duluth Blizzard of 1892

The blizzard of Wednesday, March 9, 1892, began about 4:00 a.m. with snow and winds of around 30 miles per hour.  By 3:30 p.m. the winds were clocked at 60 miles per hour, and four feet of snow had fallen by dawn on Thursday.   Street car service was suspended after noon on Wednesday because of snow accumulating on the tracks—even with the new electric rotary snow plow trying to clear it.  The incline railway was not hindered by the storm.  One man was killed when the smokestack at the Merritt & Rings saw mill in West Duluth blew over and crashed through the mill roof.  Snow drifts of twenty feet formed on the north side of Superior Street, forcing business owners to tunnel through the snow to get to their doorways.  Hundreds of signs and billboards were demolished and roofs damaged by the wind.  On Rice’s Point, the wheat elevators sustained $15,000 worth of damage to their roofs.  An estimated $50,000 to $80,000 of damages were expected from the storm. 

Duluth Daily Tribune, March 10 and 11, 1892  

Superior Superior Street after blizzard–looking east.
Northeast Minnesota Historical Center

Superior Superior Street looking west after snowstorm–from Second Avenue East.
Northeast Minnesota Historical Center