1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Duluth

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DULUTH, a city and the county-seat of St Louis county, Minnesota, U.S.A., at the W. end of Lake Superior, at the mouth of the St Louis river, about 150 m. N.E. of Minneapolis and St Paul. Pop. (1880) 3483; (1890) 33,115; (1900) 52,969, of whom 20,983 were foreign-born and 357 were negroes; (1910 census) 78,466. Of the 20,983 foreign-born in 1900, 5099 were English-Canadians, 5047 Swedes, 2655 Norwegians, 1685 Germans, and 1285 French-Canadians. Duluth is served by the Duluth and Iron Range, the Duluth, Missabe & Northern, the Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic, the Chicago & North-Western (the North-Western line), the Great Northern, and the Northern Pacific railways. Situated attractively on the side and along the base of a high bluff rising 600 ft. above the lake level, Duluth lies at the W. end of Superior Bay (here called Duluth Harbour), directly opposite the city of Superior, Wisconsin. A narrow strip of land known as Minnesota Point, 7 m. in length and extending toward Wisconsin Point, which projects from the Wisconsin shore, separates the bay from the lake and forms with St Louis Bay one of the finest natural harbours in the world. The natural entrance to the harbour is the narrow channel between the two points, but there is also a ship-canal across Minnesota Point, spanned by a curious aerial bridge 400 ft. long and 186 ft. above the water.

The unusually favourable position for lake transportation, and the extensive tributary region in the N.W., with ample rail connexions, make Duluth-Superior one of the greatest commercial ports in the country. The two cities constitute the largest coal-distributing centre in the N.W., and have some of the largest coal-docks in the world. Upwards of twenty grain elevators, with a net capacity of nearly 35,000,000 bushels, which receive enormous quantities of grain from the Red River Valley, Manitoba, and the Dakotas, either for home manufacture or for transhipment to the East, are among the noteworthy sights of the place; and extensive ore-docks are required for handling the enormous and steadily increasing shipments of iron ore from the rich Vermilion and Mesabi iron ranges first opened about 1890. In 1907 more than 29,000,000 tons of iron ore were shipped from this port. Duluth is also an important hay market. There are flour and lumber mills, foundries and machine shops, wooden ware, cooperage, sash, door and blind, lath and shingle factories, and shipyards. In 1909 great mills of the Minnesota Steel Co. were begun here. In 1905 the factory product of Duluth was valued at $10,139,009, an increase of 29·8% over that of 1900. The St Louis river furnishes one of the finest water-powers in the United States.

The commanding heights upon which the principal residential section of the city is built render it at once attractive in appearance and healthful; there is a fine system of parks and boulevards, the chief of the former being Lester, Fairmount, Portland, Cascade, Lincoln and Chester. The popular Boulevard drive at the back of Duluth commands excellent views of city and lake. Among the principal buildings are the court house, the Masonic temple, chamber of commerce, board of trade, Lyceum theatre, Federal, Providence, Lonsdale, Torrey, Alworth, Sellwood and Wolvin buildings, St. Mary’s hospital, St. Luke’s hospital and Spalding Hotel. There is a public (Carnegie) library with 50,000 volumes in 1908. The building of the central high school (classical), one of the finest in the United States, erected at a cost of about $500,000, has a square clock tower 230 ft. high, and an auditorium seating 2000. The city also has a technical high school, and in addition to the regular high school courses there are departments of business, manual training and domestic science. At Duluth also is a state normal school, erected in 1902. The federal government maintains here a life-saving station on Minnesota Point, and an extensive fish hatchery.

The first Europeans to visit the site of Duluth were probably French coureurs-des-bois, possibly the adventurous Radisson and Groseilliers. The first visitor certainly known to have been here was Daniel Greysolon, Sieur Du Lhut (d. 1709), a French trader and explorer, who about 1678 skirted Lake Superior and built a stockaded trading-post at the mouth of Pigeon river on the N. shore. From him the place received its name. A trading-post was established near the present city, at Fond du Lac, about 1752, and this eventually became a depôt of Astor’s American Fur Company. There was no permanent settlement at Duluth proper, however, until 1853, and in 1860 there were only 80 inhabitants. Incorporated in 1870, in which year railway connexion with the South was established, its growth was slow for some years, the increase for the decade 1870–1880 being very slight (from 3131 to 3483); but the extension of railways into the north-western wheat region, the opening up of Lake Superior to commerce, and finally the development of the Vermilion and Mesabi iron ranges, brought on a period of almost unparalleled growth, marked by the remarkable increase in population of more than 850% between 1880 and 1890; between 1890 and 1900 the increase was 60%.

See J. R. Carey, History of Duluth and Northern Minnesota (Duluth, 1898); Leggett and Chipman, Duluth and its Environs (Duluth, 1895); and J. D. Ensign, History of St Louis County (Duluth, 1900).