Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth, Minnesota
—  City  —
City of Duluth

Nickname(s): The Emerald City,
City on the Hill,
Zenith City,
Twin Ports (with Superior)
Location in Saint Louis County, Minnesota
Duluth is located in United States
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 46°47′12.98″N 92°5′53.5″W / 46.7869389°N 92.098194°W / 46.7869389; -92.098194
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Saint Louis
Incorporated 1857
 - Mayor Don Ness
 - City 87.3 sq mi (226.2 km2)
 - Land 68 sq mi (176.10 km2)
 - Water 19.3 sq mi (50.01 km2)  22.11%
Elevation 702 ft (214 m)
Population (2010)
 - City 86,265
 - Density 1,278.2/sq mi (493.6/km2)
 Urban 115,224
 Metro 276,368
 - Demonym Duluthian
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 55801, 55802, 55803, 55804, 55805, 55806, 55807, 55808, 55810, 55811, 55812
Area code 218
FIPS code 27-17000[1]
GNIS feature ID 0661145[2]
Website www.duluthmn.gov

Duluth (/dəˈluːθ/ ( listen) in English) is a port city in the U.S. state of Minnesota and is the county seat of Saint Louis County. The fourth largest city in Minnesota, Duluth had a total population of 86,265 in the 2010 census.[3] Duluth is also the second largest city that is located on Lake Superior after Thunder Bay, Ontario, and has the largest metropolitan area on Lake Superior. The Duluth MSA had a population of 279,771 in 2010. Situated at the westernmost point of the Great Lakes on the north shore of Lake Superior, Duluth is accessible to ocean-going vessels from the Atlantic Ocean 2,300 miles (3,700 km) away via the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Seaway.

Duluth forms a metropolitan area with Superior, Wisconsin called the Twin Ports. These two cities share the Duluth–Superior harbor and together are the Great Lakes' largest port transporting coal, iron ore (taconite), and grain. As a tourist destination for the Midwest, Duluth features America's only all-freshwater aquarium, the Great Lakes Aquarium; the Aerial Lift Bridge, which spans the Duluth Ship Canal into the Duluth-Superior Harbor; and Minnesota Point (known as Park Point locally), one of the world's longest freshwater sand spits, spanning 6 miles (9.7 km)[4]. The city is also the starting point for vehicle trips along Minnesota's famous North Shore.[5]

The city is named for Daniel Greysolon, Le Sieur du Luth, the first known European explorer of the area.




Minnesota Point from the hill above Duluth in 1875

Native American tribes had occupied the Duluth area for thousands of years. The original inhabitants are believed to have been members of Paleo-Indian cultures, followed by the "Old Copper" people, who hunted with spear points and knives and fished with metal hooks. Around two thousand years ago, the Woodlands people, known for their burial mounds and pottery, occupied the area. They also cultivated wild rice, a crop that continues to be harvested and sold today by Ojibwa tribes in the region. The Sioux inhabited the region until the middle of the 17th century. In about 1630, an Indian village known as Wi-ah-quah-ke-che-qume-eng was at present day Fond du Lac.[6] The Ojibwa drove the Sioux out soon after 1654, when the "Chippewa" were forced from eastern seaboard areas by the Iroquois." [7]

Duluth's name in Ojibwe is "Onigamiinsing"("at the little portage") because of the small and easy portage across Minnesota Point between Lake Superior and Superior Bay forming Duluth's harbor. According to Ojibwa oral history, Spirit Island, located near the Spirit Valley neighborhood, was the "Sixth Stopping Place" where the northern and southern branches of the Ojibwa Nation came together and then proceeded to their "Seventh Stopping Place" near the present city of La Pointe, Wisconsin.

In 1659, Pierre-Esprit Radisson and Médard des Groseilliers went searching for furs in the Lake Superior region and visited the area that became today's Duluth. Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, the city's namesake, arrived in 1679 to settle rivalries between two Indian nations, the Dakota and the Ojibwa, and to advance fur trading missions in the area. His work accomplished both objectives, with the Ojibwa becoming middlemen between the French and the Dakota. As a result, the area prospered, and as early as 1692 the Hudson's Bay Company set up a small post at Fond du Lac.

Ruins of old Fond du Lac trading post, as they appeared in 1907

It was not until 1792 that the next trading post, on the Wisconsin side of the Saint Louis River, was opened by Jean Baptiste Cadotte of the North West Company. A fire destroyed the post in 1800, but a German émigré, John Jacob Astor, constructed a post on the river's Minnesota side. The store initially floundered as a result of the Indians' insistence in trading with established English and French partners. However, Astor managed to convince the United States Congress to ban foreigners from trading in American territory. His American Fur Company was reformed in 1816-17. Hard times hit the post once again by 1839, because fashion-conscious Europeans were choosing silk hats over those made from beaver pelts.

Two Treaties of Fond du Lac were signed in the present neighborhood of Fond du Lac in 1826 and 1847. As part of the Treaty of Washington (1854) with the Lake Superior Band of Chippewa, the Fond du Lac Indian Reservation was established upstream from Duluth near Cloquet, Minnesota. The Ojibwa population was relocated there.

Permanent settlement

Chester Terrace

Interest in the area was piqued in the 1850s as rumors of copper mining began to circulate. A government land survey in 1852, followed by a treaty with local tribes in 1854, secured wilderness for gold-seeking explorers, sparked a "land rush," and led to the development of iron ore mining in the area.

Around the same time, newly-constructed channels and locks in the East permitted large ships to access the area. A road connecting Duluth to the Twin Cities was also constructed. Eleven small towns on both sides of the Saint Louis River were formed, establishing Duluth's roots as a city.

By 1857, copper resources became scarce and the area's economic focus shifted to timber harvesting. A nationwide financial crisis caused nearly three-quarters of the city's early pioneers to leave.

In the late 1860s, financier Jay Cooke (after whom the Jay Cooke State Park is named) convinced the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad to create an extension from St. Paul to Duluth. The railroad opened areas due north and west of Lake Superior to iron ore mining. Duluth's population on New Year's Day in 1869 consisted of fourteen families; by the Fourth of July, 3,500 people were present to celebrate.

Panoramic view, circa 1898

Twentieth century

The J.B. Ford storing and the J.A.W. Iglehart offloading cement.
A view of Duluth and the surrounding area from the Enger Tower.

By the end of the nineteenth century, Duluth was a thriving city. Duluth was home to more millionaires per capita than any other city in the world and had become a favorite summer playground for the rich and the famous. Magnificent manor homes and Victorian mansions welcomed family and friends to lavish social events. At the turn of the century, the city's port passed New York City and Chicago in gross tonnage handled, elevating it to the leading port in the United States. Ten newspapers, six banks and an eleven-story skyscraper, the Torrey Building were also present.

In 1907, U.S. Steel announced that a $5 million plant would be constructed in the area. Although steel production didn't begin until 1915, predictions held that Duluth's population would rise to 200,000–300,000. With the Duluth Works steel plant came Morgan Park, a once-independent company town that now stands as a city neighborhood. The Diamond Calk Horseshoe Company was founded in 1908 and later became a major manufacturer and exporter of wrenches and automotive tools. Duluth's huge wholesale Marshall Wells Hardware Company expanded in 1901 by opening branches in Portland, Oregon, and Winnepeg, Ontario; the company catalog totaled 2,390 pages by 1913. The Duluth Showcase Company, which later became the Duluth Refrigerator Company and then the Coolerator Company, was established in 1908. The Universal Atlas Cement Company, which made cement from slag that was a by-product of the steel plant, began operations in 1917.

The city experienced a large immigrant influx during the early twentieth century and became home to one of the largest Finnish communities in the world outside of Finland. For decades, a Finnish-language daily newspaper, taking the namesake of the old Grand Duchy of Finland's pro-independence leftist paper, Päivälehti, was published in the city. The Finnish IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) community published a widely read labor newspaper Industrialisti. From 1907 to 1941, the Finnish Socialist Federation and then the IWW operated Work People's College, an educational institution that taught classes from a working class, socialist perspective. Duluth was also settled by immigrants from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Ireland, England, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Ukraine, Romania, and Russia. Today, people of Scandinavian descent constitute a strong ethnic plurality of the population, accounting for about one-third of Duluth's residents.

In September 1918, a group calling itself the Knights of Liberty dragged Finnish immigrant Ollie Kinkkonen from his boarding house, tarred and feathered him, and lynched him. Kinkkonen did not want to fight in World War I and planned to return to Finland. His body was found two weeks later hanging in a tree in Duluth's Lester Park.

Another lynching in Duluth occurred on June 15, 1920 when three innocent black male circus workers were attacked by a mob and hanged after the alleged rape of a teenage girl. The Duluth lynchings took place on First Street and Second Avenue East, where today three 7-foot (2.1 m)-tall bronze statues of the men who were killed have been erected as a memorial.

In 1918, the Cloquet Fire (named for the nearby town of Cloquet) burned across Carlton and southern Saint Louis Counties destroying dozens of communities in the Duluth area. The fire was the worst natural disaster in Minnesota history in terms of the number of lives lost in a single day. Many people perished on the rural roads surrounding the Duluth area, and historical accounts tell of victims dying while trying to outrun the fire. The National Guard unit based in Duluth was mobilized in a heroic effort to battle the fire and assist victims, but the troops were overwhelmed by the enormity of the fire. In the aftermath of the fire, tens of thousands of people were injured or homeless; many of the refugees fled into the city for aid and shelter.

For the first half of the 20th century, the city was an industrial port boom town with multiple grain elevators, a cement plant, a nail mill, wire mills, and the Duluth Works plant. In 1916, during World War I, a shipyard was constructed on the Saint Louis River. A new neighborhood, today known as Riverside, was formed around the operation. Similar industrial expansions took place during the Second World War, using Duluth's large harbor and the area's vast resources for the war effort. Tankers and submarine chasers (usually called "sub-chasers") were built at the Riverside shipyard. The population of Duluth proper continued to grow after the war, peaking at 107,884 in 1960.

Economic decline began in the 1950s, when high grade iron ore gave out on the Iron Range north of Duluth: ore shipments from the Duluth harbor were the most important element of the city's economy. Low grade ore (taconite) shipments, boosted by new taconite pellet technology, continued, but ore shipments were lower. By the late 1970s, foreign competition began to have a detrimental impact on the American steel industry. This eventually led to the closure of the U.S. Steel Duluth Works plant in 1981, causing a significant blow to the city's economy. The steel plant's closing forced the closing of the cement company, which depended on the steel plant for raw materials (slag). Duluth is often cited as "where the Rust Belt began." Other industrial activity followed suit with more closures, including shipbuilding, heavy machinery and the Duluth Air Force base. By the end of the decade, unemployment rates surged to 15 percent. The economic downturn was particularly hard on Duluth's west side, where the Eastern and Southern European immigrant workers had traditionally lived for decades.

With the decline of the city's industrial core, the local economic focus shifted to tourism. The downtown area was renovated with new red brick streets, skywalks, and new retail shops. Old warehouses along the waterfront were converted into cafés, shops, restaurants, and hotels. These changes fashioned the new Canal Park as a trendy tourism-oriented district. The city's population, which had been experiencing a steady decline since 1960, has now stabilized at around 85,000.

At the beginning of the 21st century, Duluth has become a regional epicenter for banking, retail shopping, and medical care for northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and northwestern Michigan. It is estimated that more than 8,000 jobs in Duluth are directly related to Duluth's two hospitals. Arts and entertainment offerings as well as year-round recreation and the natural environment have contributed to expansion of the tourist industry in Duluth. Some 3.5 million visitors each year contribute more than $400 million to the local economy.

The Untold Delights of Duluth

Early doubts about the potential of the Duluth area were voiced in the speech The Untold Delights of Duluth, made by former U.S. Representative J. Proctor Knott of Kentucky on January 27, 1871 in the U.S. House of Representatives. The speech against the St. Croix and Superior Land Grant lampooned Western boosterism, portraying Duluth as an Eden in fantastically florid terms.[8] The speech has been reprinted in collections of folklore and humorous speeches and is regarded as something of a classic. The nearby city of Proctor, Minnesota, is named for Congressman Knott.

Duluth's unofficial sister city, Duluth, Georgia, was named by Evan P. Howell in humorous reference to Representative Knott's speech. Originally called Howell's Crossroads in honor of his grandfather, Evan Howell, the town had just finished getting a railroad to the town in 1871 and the "Delights of Duluth" speech was still popular.

Proctor Knott is sometimes credited with characterizing Duluth as the "zenith city of the unsalted seas," but the honor for that coinage belongs to journalist Thomas Preston Foster, speaking at a Fourth of July picnic in 1868.[9]


Minnesota Point or Park Point

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 87.3 square miles (226 km2). It is Minnesota's second largest city in terms of land area, surpassed only by Hibbing. Of its 87.3 square miles (226 km2), 68 square miles (180 km2) or 77.89% is land and 19.3 square miles (50 km2) or 22.11% is water. Duluth's canal connects Lake Superior to the Duluth–Superior harbor and the Saint Louis River. The Aerial Lift Bridge, on which vehicles cross the canal, connects Canal Park with Minnesota Point ("Park Point").

Steep First Avenue East viewed from the Lakewalk in Canal Park

Duluth's topography is dominated by a steep hillside that climbs from Lake Superior to high inland elevations. Duluth has been called "the San Francisco of the Mid-West." The expression alludes to San Francisco's similar water-to-hilltop topography. This similarity was most evident before World War II, when Duluth had a network of street cars and an "Incline Railroad" that, like San Francisco's cable cars, climbed a steep hill (at Seventh Avenue West). The change in elevation is illustrated by Duluth's two airports. The Sky Harbor airport's weather station, situated on Park Point, has an elevation of 607 feet (185 m),[10] whereas the elevation of Duluth International Airport atop the hill is 1,427 feet (435 m)--820 feet higher.[10]

As the city has grown, the population has tended to hug the Lake Superior shoreline, hence Duluth is primarily a southwest–northeast city. A considerable amount of development on the hill's upslope gives Duluth a reputation for steep streets. Some neighborhoods, such as Piedmont Heights and Bayview Heights, are atop the hill, at times giving scenic views of the city. The Goat Hill neighborhood overlooking the "can of worms" freeway interchange above 22nd Avenue West is an example of this. Another is Skyline Parkway, a scenic road that extends from Becks Road above the Gary – New Duluth neighborhood near the western end of the city to the Lester Park neighborhood on the east side. Skyline Parkway crosses nearly the entire length of Duluth and affords breathtaking views of the famous Aerial Lift Bridge, Canal Park, and the many industries that inhabit the largest inland port. Most important, the tip of Lake Superior can be seen continuously from high on the brow of the hill. Perhaps the most rapidly developing part of the city is Miller Hill Mall and the adjacent big-box retailer shopping strip "over the hill"–the Miller Trunk Highway corridor. The 2009–2010 road reconstruction project in Duluth's Miller Hill area improved transit movement through the U.S. Highway 53 corridor from Trinity Road to Maple Grove Road. The highway project reconstructed connector roads, intersections, and adjacent roadways. Construction of a new international airport terminal is also underway as part of the government's Stimulus Reconstruction Program.


Shoreline in April

Duluth has a humid climate, with long, snowy, very cold winters and cool summers. The nickname "The Air-Conditioned City" is given to Duluth because of the summertime cooling effect of Lake Superior. Severe thunderstorms do occasionally cross over the city during the summer. Winter temperatures often remain below 0 °F (−18 °C) for periods of weeks.[citation needed] A normal winter brings consistent snow cover from November to April. Winter storms that pass south or east of Duluth can often set up easterly or northeasterly flow. Upslope lake-effect snow events can bring a foot (30 cm) or more of snow to the city while areas 50 miles (80 km) inland receive considerably less.

Lakewalk carriage ride in May

Summers are cool and comfortable with daytime temperatures averaging in the 70s °F (21-26 °C), compared to temperatures often over 90 °F (32 °C) inland. Temperatures may occasionally remain below 50 °F (10 °C) during evenings as late in the year as June along the Lake Superior shore, even when the inland temperature is in the 70s °F (21-26 °C). The phrase "cooler by the lake" can be heard often in weather forecasts during the summer, especially on days when an easterly wind is expected. Because the huge lake absorbs summer heat, then gradually releases it when temperatures drop below freezing, seasons are substantially delayed: November is often much warmer than March, when the lake has lost much of its heat. Great local variations are also common because of the rapid change in elevation between hilltop and shoreside. Often this variation manifests itself as snow at the Miller Hill Mall while rain falls in Canal Park. The warmer shoreline temperatures also have permitted ginkgo trees, admired for their golden autumn leaves, to thrive beside the lake, even though Duluth is well north of the normal temperature range of ginkgos. The lake steams in the winter when moist, lake-warmed air at the surface rises and cools, losing some of its moisture carrying capacity.


Herb Bergson, former Mayor of Duluth, walking to an anti-poverty rally in November 2005
Historical populations
Census Pop.
1860 71
1870 3,131 4,309.9%
1880 3,483 11.2%
1890 33,115 850.8%
1900 52,969 60.0%
1910 78,466 48.1%
1920 98,917 26.1%
1930 101,453 2.6%
1940 101,065 −0.4%
1950 104,511 3.4%
1960 107,312 2.7%
1970 100,578 −6.3%
1980 92,811 −7.7%
1990 85,493 −7.9%
2000 86,918 1.7%
2010 86,265 −0.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

Duluth's population has stabilized: 85,493 in 1990, 86,918 in 2000, 86,265 in 2010. As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 35,500 households and 19,918 families in the city.[3] The population density was 1,278.1 /sq mi (493.5 /km2). There were 36,994 housing units at an average density of 544.0 /sq mi (210.0 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 92.7% White, 1.6% Black or African American, 2.4% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.3% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. 1.1% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.[13] The population's ancestry was 23.6% German, 16.8% Norwegian, 15.3% Swedish, 10.6% Irish, 7.1% Polish, 7.0% English, 5.1% Italian, 3.2% Scottish or Scotch-Irish, 1.5% Danish, and 0.4% Welsh according to the 2000 Census.[14] Thus, slightly more than one-third of Duluth's residents were of Scandinavian (Norwegian, Swedish, or Danish) ancestry.

Among Duluth's households, 26.6% had children under 18, 41.4% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.9% were non-families. 34.5% of all households were one-person households, and 13.3% had someone 65 or older living alone. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the city the age distribution of the population shows 21.3% under the age of 18, 16.2% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 93.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over there were 89.7 males.

Duluth's median household income was $33,766; median family income was $46,394. Males had a median income of $35,182, females $24,965. The per capita income was $18,969. About 8.6% of families and 15.5% of all residents were below the poverty line, including 15.4% of those under 18 and 9.5% of those 65 or over.[15]


The present mayor of Duluth is Don Ness.

Duluth is located in Minnesota's 8th congressional district, represented by Republican Chip Cravaack.

As of 2009, the city has a major budget deficit. The deficit has affected city services such as street maintenance, water service, and gas and sanitary sewer maintenance, and it has forced the reduction or elimination of many city-managed social programs. All of these compounded problems have resulted in city staff reductions. The sanitary sewer overflow problems have forced some residents to disconnect their home drainage systems from the sanitary sewer system at significant cost to the homeowner and have been a source of contention.

In 2004, Duluth was center to a separation-of-church-and-state legal battle between the city council, local residents, and the American Civil Liberties Union. The debate and eventual lawsuit revolved around a marble fixture on the lawn of City Hall. The fixture was inscribed with the Ten Commandments. The city eventually agreed to remove the fixture. It it now resides on private property near the Comfort Suites Hotel on Canal Park Drive.

The city was featured in the New York Times article "The Next Retirement Time Bomb"[16] because Duluth conducted a financial study of the health care benefits promised to retired city employees. The study concluded that future health care obligations would bankrupt Duluth's government. The article treats Duluth as representative of many local governments that have not kept tabs on future health care obligations promised to city retirees. The Duluth News Tribune portrayed prior mayor John Fedo in an unflattering light with regard to responsibility in this. For decades local officials, including former mayor Gary Doty, have acquired shared responsibility. The reason, according to the paper, is that unions are powerful in the area and winning their favor is a major factor in being elected.

During the 2000 presidential election, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader received over 7.0% of votes from Duluth residents, one of the highest Green Party percentages in the country for a city with a population of at least 85,000.


The Str. American Victory (then, the Middletown) on Lake Superior

Duluth is the regional hub not only of its own immediate area but also of a larger area encompassing northeastern Minnesota, northwestern Wisconsin, and the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It is a major transportation center for the transshipment of coal, taconite, agricultural products, steel, limestone, and cement. In recent years it has seen strong growth in the transshipment of wind turbine components coming and going from manufacturers in both Europe and North Dakota and of oversized industrial machinery manufactured all around the world and destined for the tar sands oil extraction projects in northern Alberta.

Duluth is also a center for aquatic biology and aquatic science. The city is home to the EPA's Mid-Continent Ecology Division Laboratory and the University of Minnesota-Duluth. These institutions have spawned many economically and scientifically important businesses that support Duluth's economy. A short list of these businesses include ERA laboratories, LimnoLogic,[17] the ASci Corporation, Environmental Consulting and Testing, and Ecolab.

The city is a popular center for tourism. Duluth is a convenient base for trips to the scenic North Shore via Highway 61 and to fishing and wilderness destinations in Minnesota's far north, including the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Tourists also may drive on the North Shore Scenic Drive to Gooseberry Falls State Park, Baptism Falls (Minnesota's largest waterfall), the vertical cliff of Palisade Head, Isle Royale National Park (reached via ferry), Grand Portage National Monument in Grand Portage, and High Falls of the Pigeon River (on the Canadian border). Thunder Bay, Ontario, can be reached by following the highway into Canada along Lake Superior.

Duluth is now working with Superior, Wisconsin, to bring Google Fiber internet to the Twin Ports.[18][19]


The John Blatnik Bridge looking towards Superior, Wisconsin.

The Duluth area marks the northern endpoint of Interstate Highway 35, which stretches south to Laredo, Texas. U.S. Highways that serve the area are U.S. Highway 53, which stretches from La Crosse, Wisconsin, to International Falls, Minnesota, and U.S. Highway 2, which stretches from Everett, Washington, to St.Ignace, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The southwestern part of the city has Thompson Hill, where travelers entering Duluth on I-35 can see most of Duluth, including the Aerial Lift Bridge and the waterfront. There are two freeway connections from Duluth to Superior. U.S. Highway 2 provides a connection into Superior via the Richard I. Bong Memorial Bridge; and Interstate 535 is concurrent with U.S. 53 over the John Blatnik Bridge.

The John Blatnik Bridge looking across the harbor towards Duluth at night.

Many state highways serve the area. Highway 23 runs diagonally across Minnesota, indirectly connecting Duluth to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Highway 33 provides a western bypass of Duluth connecting Interstate 35, which comes up from the Twin Cities, to U.S. 53, which leads to Iron Range cities and International Falls. Highway 61 provides access to Thunder Bay, Ontario, via the North Shore of Lake Superior. Highway 194 provides a spur route into the city of Duluth known as "Central Entrance" and Mesaba Avenue. Wisconsin Highway 13 reaches along Lake Superior's South Shore. Wisconsin Highway 35 runs along Wisconsin's western border for 412 miles (663 km) to its southern terminus at the WisconsinIllinois border (three miles north of East Dubuque).

Highway 61 and parts of Highways 2 and 53 are segments of the Lake Superior Circle Tour route that follows Lake Superior through Minnesota, Ontario, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Duluth International Airport serves the city and surrounding region with daily flights to Minneapolis, Detroit, and Chicago, and weekly flights to Orlando and Las Vegas. Nearby municipal airports are Duluth Sky Harbor on Minnesota Point and the Richard I. Bong Memorial Airport in Superior. Both the Bong Airport and Bong Bridge are named for famed World War II pilot and highest-scoring American World War II air ace Major Richard Ira "Dick" Bong, a native of nearby Poplar, Wisconsin.

Located at the western end of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Duluth-Superior seaport is the largest and farthest-inland freshwater seaport in North America. By far the largest and busiest on the Great Lakes, the port handles an average of 46 million short tons of cargo and over 1,100 visits each year from domestic and international vessels. With 49 miles (79 km) of waterfront, it is one of the leading bulk cargo ports in North America and ranks among the top 20 ports in the United States.[20] Duluth is a major shipping port for taconite pellets, made from concentrated low-grade iron ore and destined for midwestern and eastern steel mills. The former Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway, now part of the Canadian National Railway, operates taconite-hauling trains in the area. Duluth is also served by the BNSF Railway, the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the Union Pacific Railroad.

The local bus system is run by the Duluth Transit Authority, which serves Duluth and Superior. The DTA runs a system of buses manufactured by Gillig, including new hybrids.

Duluth is also served by Greyhound Lines and Jefferson Lines with daily service to the Twin Cities.


Duluth gets electric power from Duluth-based Minnesota Power, a subsidiary of ALLETE Corporation. Minnesota Power produces energy at generation facilities located throughout northern Minnesota and a generation plant in North Dakota. The latter supplies electricity into the MP system by the Square Butte HVDC line, which ends near the town.

Minnesota Power primarily uses western coal to generate electricity, but also has a number of small hydroelectric facilities, the largest of which is the Thomson Dam southwest of Duluth on the St. Louis River.

In December of 2006, Minnesota Power began purchasing all the energy generated from the new 50-MW Oliver Wind I Energy Center built by NextEra Resources near Center, N.D. In 2007, Minnesota Power entered into a second 25-year wind power purchase agreement with NextEra. A 48-MW facility was built adjacent to the initial Oliver County wind farm, and the new generators began commercial operation in November of 2007.

Construction began in 2010 on the 76-MW Bison Wind I Energy Center near New Salem, N.D. Bison I represents the first wave of Minnesota Power-constructed wind farms that will be built in south central North Dakota and linked to Minnesota. by way of a 465-mile direct current (DC) transmission line. ALLETE finalized an agreement Jan. 1, 2010 to purchase a 250-kilovolt DC line between Center, N.D. and Hermantown, Minn. (near ALLETE headquarters in Duluth) and phase out a long-term contract to buy coal-generated electricity now transmitted over the line.

Duluth has recently become, because of the wind energy demand, a port for wind energy parts shipments from overseas and the hub for shipments out to various wind energy sites in the midwest.


Local newspapers include the BusinessNorth monthly, the Duluth News Tribune, the Duluth Budgeteer News, the free newspapers Transistor, The Zenith, and The Reader Weekly.

Locally based nationally distributed magazines include Cabin Life, Lake Superior Magazine, and New Moon Magazine.

Locally based websites include PerfectDuluthDay.com and TwinPortsNightLife.com.


The Weber Music Hall on the campus of the University of Minnesota Duluth was designed by noted architect César Pelli.

Local Colleges and universities include the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), The College of St. Scholastica, Lake Superior College, and Duluth Business University. The UMD campus includes a medical school. The University of Wisconsin - Superior and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College are in nearby Superior, Wisconsin.

Most public schools are administered by Duluth Public Schools. The schools have open enrollment. ISD 709 (Independent School District number 709) is now undertaking a reconstruction of all area schools under a program called the "Red Plan." The Red Plan's goals are the reconstruction of some older schools to meet new educational guidelines, and the construction of four new school buildings. The new schools will result in the redistricting of many students. As of 2009, the Red Plan was and is being contested in court by some citizens because of the cost of implementing the plan and because of the choice of construction management contractor.[citation needed]

Several independent and public charter schools also serve Duluth students. The largest is Marshall School, a private college preparatory school founded in 1972 and covering grades 4-12. Duluth has four Catholic schools with coverage up to grades 6 or 8, two Protestant schools, one Montessori school, and six other charter and private schools.


Duluth's Graffiti Graveyard

Local attractions include a variety in the arts and literature. Museums include the Duluth Art Institute at the Duluth Depot, the Tweed Museum of Art at the University of Minnesota Duluth, the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, and smaller local art galleries. See the List of Museums in Duluth. The Duluth Public Library has three locations. Duluth is also home to a professional ballet company, the Minnesota Ballet. Duluth shares a symphony orchestra--the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra [1]--with Superior, Wisconsin. In summer free concerts are often held in Chester Park, where local musicians play for crowds. The Bayfront Blues Festival is held in early August. Beginning in 2004, Duluth has celebrated Gay Pride with a parade on Labor Day weekend. The city celebrates the Homegrown Music Festival the first week in May each year. Started in 1998, the festival features over 130 local musical acts performing across the city. The Junior Achievement High School ROCKS - Battle of the Bands showcases middle school and high school bands from central Minnesota to the Canadian border and northern Wisconsin and takes place at the DECC in mid-April. Duluth is where the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards are given, honoring books about the region.

There also exists under a section of Interstate 35 a stretch of graffiti known as the Graffiti Graveyard. It is known throughout Duluth. Many residents remember visiting the Graffiti Graveyard during their teenage years.[21]

Parks and recreation

Lester River. Lester Park Trail is one of the city's popular hiking and picnic areas.[22]

Duluth has numerous parks. These include six parks on Lake Superior: Brighton Beach Park, Leif Erickson Park, Canal Park on Park Point, the Lakewalk (connecting Canal Park and Leif Erickson Park via the lakeshore), Lafayette Park on Park Point, and Park Point Recreation Area at the end of Park Point, where a sand beach invites swimming in the lake. Duluth's other parks include Lester Park, Congdon Park, Hartley Park, Chester Park, the Rose Garden (next to Leif Erickson Park), Bayfront Festival Park, Cascade Park, Enger Park, Lincoln Park, Brewer Park, Fairmount Park, Indian Point Park, Magney–Snively Park, and Fond du Lac Park, as well as some small neighborhood parks and athletic fields. Lester Park, Congdon Park, Hartley Park, and Chester Park have trail systems, and three of these parks–all except Hartley–also have waterfalls, as does Lincoln Park. Hartley Park also has a nature center. Lester Park and Enger Park have public golf courses. Fairmount Park has the Lake Superior Zoo. Jay Cooke State Park, with its famous swinging bridge (a footbridge) across the Saint Louis River, lies southwest of Duluth, just beyond the city limits.

In addition to the two public golf courses (Lester Park and Enger Park), golfers can play at the Northland Country Club and the Ridgeview Country Club. Duluth also has 5 public tennis courts and 63 private tennis club courts. And the city has many indoor and outdoor ice rinks, including curling facilities.

Duluth hosts a 39-mile (63 km) segment of the Superior Hiking Trail, soon to be part of the North Country National Scenic Trail – the nation's longest hiking trail. This trail segment passes through or near Jay Cooke State Park, Ely's Peak, Bardon's Peak, the Magney–Snively old growth forest, Spirit Mountain, Enger Park, Point of Rocks, the Lakewalk, Chester Park, UMD's Bagley nature trails, and Hartley Park. It features fabulous views of the Saint Louis River, the Twin Ports, the Aerial Bridge, and Lake Superior.

Since 1977, Duluth has played host to Grandma's Marathon, held annually in June. Named after its original sponsor, Grandma's Restaurant, it draws runners from all over the world. The course starts just outside Two Harbors, Minnesota, runs down Old Highway 61 (the former route of Highway 61 along the North Shore of Lake Superior), and finishes in one of Duluth's tourism neighborhoods, Canal Park. The same route is also taken during the North Shore Inline Marathon, held in September and also drawing racers from all over the world.

The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is Duluth's annual sled dog race, held in February. The race is named after the son of Anishinaabe Chief Makwabimidem. Beargrease was one of the first mail carriers between Two Harbors, Minnesota, and Grand Marais, Minnesota. He and his brothers carried mail by dogsled, boat, and horse for almost twenty years between the two towns, which were unconnected by road. Marathon competitors can choose between two distances. The longer 400-mile (644 km) course takes a round trip from Duluth to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The 150-mile (241 km) course departs from Duluth and ends in Tofte, Minnesota. The marathon was first held in 1980. It is regarded as a training ground for Alaska's larger and more elite Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

The city is home to Duluth Curling Club, Duluth Yacht Club and the Duluth-Superior Sailing Association.

Sites of interest

The noted Glensheen Historic Estate, built by wealthy businessman Chester Adgate Congdon, can be found on the shore of Lake Superior and is open to tours year-round. The Aerial Lift Bridge, spanning the short canal into Duluth's harbor, is a vertical lift bridge. It was originally an exceedingly rare aerial transfer bridge--a bridge that slides a basketlike "gondola" back and forth to transfer people and vehicles from one side to the other. Historic Central High School towers over the harbor and features an 1890s classroom museum. The wreck of the Thomas Wilson, a classic early 20th century whaleback ore boat, lies underwater less than a mile outside the Duluth harbor ship canal. The USCGC Sundew (WLB-404), a former USCG Seagoing Buoy Tender, is a museum ship along the Duluth waterfront, as is the 610' long William A Irvin.

Great Lakes Aquarium.jpg Glensheen.JPG Thomas Wilson whaleback BGSU 1 withBarges.jpg Duluth-bridge-20070709.jpg William Irvin 2.jpg Duluf.jpg
Great Lakes Aquarium Glensheen Historic Estate The Thomas Wilson Aerial Lift Bridge William A Irvin Duluth sign
Pano small.jpg
Looking east from a public walkway


Duluth in the NFL
Year W L T Finish
1923 4 3 0 7th
1924 5 1 0 4th
1925 0 3 0 16th
1926 6 5 3 8th
1927 1 8 0 11th

Professional sports history

Duluth fielded a National Football League team called the Kelleys (officially the Kelley Duluths after the Kelley-Duluth Hardware Store) from 1923–1925 and the Eskimos (officially[citation needed] Ernie Nevers' Eskimos after the early NFL great, their star player) from 1926-1927. The Eskimos were then sold and became the Orange Tornadoes (Orange, New Jersey). This bit of history became the basis for the 2008 George Clooney/Renee Zellweger movie, "Leatherheads."

The Duluth-Superior Dukes of the Northern League Independent Professional Baseball played in West Duluth's Wade Stadium from the league's inception in 1993 until 2002 when the team moved to Kansas City, Kan., and became the Kansas City T-Bones. The Dukes were Northern League champions in 1997. An earlier Northern League, based in the Midwest, was also in operation off and on from 1902 to 1971, the longest stint being 1932-1971. The Dukes were a farm team for the Detroit Tigers from 1960–1964 and several other teams in later years before the Northern League folded in 1971. The Dukes produced notable players such as Denny McLain, Bill Freehan, Gates Brown, Ray Oyler, Jim Northrup, Mickey Stanley, John Hiller, and Willie Horton, all of whom were members of the 1968 world champion Detroit Tigers.

Duluth is also home to Horton's Gym, the home gym of professional boxers Zach "Jungle Boy" Walters and Andy Kolle, as well as a number of other professional prizefighters.

Amateur sports

The University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldog hockey games are a major event in town during the cold Duluth winters. Games used to be televised locally, and thousands watched the games in person at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC). A new hockey arena, Amsoil Arena, opened Dec. 30, 2010, adjacent to the DECC. Several Bulldogs, including hockey great Brett Hull, have gone on to success in the National Hockey League. The UMD women's ice hockey team has won five NCAA Division I national championships (2001–03, 2008, 2010.) The 2010 title game against Cornell University lasted through nearly three full overtimes and was the longest women's ice hockey championship game in NCAA history. The 2003 women's Frozen Four tournament was played at the DECC with the Bulldogs claiming their third consecutive national title by defeating Harvard University via a dramatic double-overtime goal by Nora Tallus in front of a sellout home crowd. The 2008 Frozen Four tournament was also held at the DECC and saw the Bulldogs claim their fourth national title with a 4-0 shutout of the Wisconsin Badgers. On April 9, 2011, the Bulldog men's team defeated Michigan to win their first national championship in school history. The Women's Frozen Four tournament will be held at Amsoil Arena in 2012.

The Duluth Huskies is a college summer wood bat league baseball team based in Duluth and playing in the Northwoods League. The team plays its home games at Wade Stadium. The roster includes some of the top college baseball players in the country. The Huskies play 34 home games each summer between June and August.

The Duluth–Superior Shoremen is a semi-professional football team based in Duluth's Public Schools Stadium. It is in the Mid-American Football League and placed second in that league's championship game in 2005.

The Duluth Xpress is an amateur baseball team that plays its games at the Ordean Middle School baseball field. The team is made up of current and former college players and former professional players. The Xpress competes in the Arrowhead League, a class B league in Minnesota town team baseball.

The Duluth Padres Baseball Club plays its home games at Bulldog Park on the campus of the University of Minnesota Duluth. The Padres is an amateur team composed of former high school players and current and former college players. The team competes in the Upper 13 League of the Wisconsin Baseball Association. The team was established in 2007 and played its first three seasons in Proctor, Minnesota, as the Proctor Padres. The Padres moved to Duluth in 2010 and changed its name to the Duluth Padres in 2011.

Dynamo Duluth plays bandy.[23] That makes Duluth one of only a few spots in the country where that sport exists. All league matches are played at Guidant John Rose Minnesota Oval in Roseville.

The Harbor City Roller Dames, founded in 2007, is Duluth–Superior's first women's flat-track roller derby league. Harbor City Roller Dames Dames is a 19+ league. There is also a second derby league in the Duluth–Superior area called Duluth Derby Divas. Unlike HCRD, it is an 18+ league. It practices at the armory in Cloquet, Minnesota, on Tuesdays.

Grandma's Marathon is a marathon ran between Two Harbors and Duluth. It is ran in June and ends at Canal Park near Grandma's Restaurant.

Films, television shows and recordings in Duluth

  • The Crash Test Dummies recorded Songs of the Unforgiven (2004) during a live performance at the Sacred Heart Church in Duluth
  • TV Series: Power, Privilege & Justice, Mystery in the Mansion (2005) – Filmed at Glensheen Mansion and aired on truTV
  • TV Series: Mystery Diagnosis (2005) – Aired on the Discovery Channel
  • Battleground Minnesota – Release Date: September 1, 2005 – A documentary movie about the 2004 presidential elections in Minnesota
  • Sydämeni laulu – Release Date: July 2, 1948 – Finnish documentary movie
  • Minnesota: Land of Plenty – Release Date: January 31, 1942 – Documentary short subject by James A. Fitzpatrick
  • Iron Will – Release date: January 14, 1994 – Movie filmed in Duluth. This Walt Disney Pictures family and adventure film was directed by Charles Haid and based on the true story of Albert Campbell, who won a 522-mile (840 km) dog sled race race from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1917. The movie stars Mackenzie Astin, Kevin Spacey, David Ogden Stiers, George Gerdes, Brian Cox, Penelope Windust and August Schellenberg
  • You'll Like My Mother – Release date: October 13, 1972 – Feature film shot on location in and around Duluth, principally at Glensheen Historic Estate. Released by Universal Studios, this thriller stars Patty Duke as a very pregnant Francesca Kinsolving, who travels thousands of miles to meet the mother of her dead soldier husband for the first time. The coldhearted and distant mother-in-law, played by Rosemary Murphy, is forced to take in Francesca because of a raging blizzard. The longer Francesca is trapped in the house, the more she discovers the disturbing secrets about her mother-in-law and the family. Co-starring Richard Thomas (actor) and Sian Barbara Allen
  • Far North – Release date: November 11, 1988 – Feature film shot on location in and around Duluth. Written and directed by Sam Shepard and starring Jessica Lange, Charles Durning, Patricia Arquette, and Tess Harper

Set in Duluth

The short lived 1996 sitcom The Louie Show[24] was set in Duluth. Louie Anderson played psychotherapist Louie Lundgren.[25] The opening title sequence featured downtown Duluth buildings.

The 1983 Gore Vidal novel Duluth was set in a stylized version of Duluth.

The 2008 American sports comedy film Leatherheads, starring and directed by George Clooney, was set in Duluth. (Leatherheads was actually filmed in North and South Carolina.) The film featured a fictitious football team called the Duluth Bulldogs.

Thomas M. Disch's 1965 alien-invasion novel The Genocides is set primarily in a fictional community in adjacent Lake County called Tassel. A pivotal scene in the beginning of chapter four treats the incineration of the city of Duluth by the extraterrestrial invaders' machines with some detail, even mentioning downtown Duluth's Alworth Building and including a group of characters' escape along Highway 61.

Notable residents and natives

Sister cities

Duluth has four sister cities as designated by Sister Cities International:[27]

See also


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. http://geonames.usgs.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ a b "American FactFinder Population Estimates: Duluth city, St. Louis County". U.S. Census Bureau. 2006-07-01. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/GCTTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=04000US27&-_box_head_nbr=GCT-T1&-ds_name=PEP_2006_EST&-_lang=en&-format=ST-9&-_sse=on. Retrieved 2009-02-27. 
  4. ^ "Scientific and Natural Areas: Minnesota Point Pine Forest: Minnesota DNR". Dnr.minnesota.gov. http://www.dnr.minnesota.gov/snas/sna02000/index.html. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  5. ^ Larry Copeland (2003-07-10). "Little Chattanooga prepares to take on Atlanta in Fish War". USA TODAY. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2003-07-10-city-tourism-usat_x.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-18. 
  6. ^ Van Brunt, Walter. Duluth and St. Louis County Minnesota: Their Story and People. Chicago; The American Historical Society 1921
  7. ^ Christianson, Theodore. Minnesota: the land of sky-tinted waters. Chicago: the American Historical Society, 1935.
  8. ^ Knott, J. Proctor; (McCullogh,, David G. -ed) (June, 1971). "The Untold Delights of Duluth". American Heritage Magazine 22 (4). http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/1971/4/1971_4_76.shtml. 
  9. ^ Macdonald, Dora Mary (1999). This is Duluth. p. 281. ISBN 9781889924038. http://books.google.com/?id=ADOlAAAACAAJ&dq=This+is+duluth.  ISBN 1-889924-03-2, p. 65.
  10. ^ a b "Duluth, Minnesota". The Weather Underground, Inc. (wunderground.com). http://www.wunderground.com/US/MN/Duluth/KDYT.html. Retrieved 2007-08-18. 
  11. ^ "Climatography of the United States No. 20 (1971–2000)" (PDF). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2004. http://cdo.ncdc.noaa.gov/climatenormals/clim20/mn/212248.pdf. Retrieved 2010−02−21. 
  12. ^ "Climatological Normals of Duluth". Hong Kong Observatory. http://www.weather.gov.hk/wxinfo/climat/world/eng/n_america/us/Duluth_e.htm. Retrieved 2010−05−20. 
  13. ^ American FactFinder, United States Census Bureau. "Duluth city, Minnesota - DP-1. Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2000". Factfinder.census.gov. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/QTTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=16000US2717000&-qr_name=DEC_2000_SF1_U_DP1&-ds_name=DEC_2000_SF1_U&-_lang=en&-redoLog=false&-_sse=on. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  14. ^ American FactFinder, United States Census Bureau. "Duluth city, Minnesota - DP-2. Profile of Selected Social Characteristics: 2000". Factfinder.census.gov. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/QTTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=16000US2717000&-qr_name=DEC_2000_SF3_U_DP2&-ds_name=DEC_2000_SF3_U&-_lang=en&-redoLog=false&-_sse=on. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  15. ^ American FactFinder, United States Census Bureau. "Duluth city, Minnesota - DP-3. Profile of Selected Economic Characteristics: 2000". Factfinder.census.gov. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/QTTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=16000US2717000&-qr_name=DEC_2000_SF3_U_DP3&-ds_name=DEC_2000_SF3_U&-_lang=en&-redoLog=false&-_sse=on. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  16. ^ Freudenheim, Milt and Mary Williams Walsh (2005-12-11). "The Next Retirement Time Bomb". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/11/business/yourmoney/11retire.html. Retrieved 2007-08-18. 
  17. ^ "LimnoLogic". LimnoLogic. http://www.limnologic.com. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  18. ^ Google Fiber for the Twin Ports. Googletwinports.com.
  19. ^ Miguel Heft, "Hoping to Attract Google? Go Jump in the Lake". The New York Times, March 21, 2010.
  20. ^ "Duluth Seaway Port Authority". Duluthport.com. http://www.duluthport.com/port.php. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  21. ^ "Graffiti Graveyard". D.umn.edu. 2004-11-01. http://www.d.umn.edu/~schi0456/5230/glocal/graveyard.html. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  22. ^ Junior League of Duluth, Minnesota. "Lester Park Trail". City of Duluth Parks and Recreation Department. http://www.ci.duluth.mn.us/city/parksandrecreation/Secondarypages/lesterparktrail.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-18. 
  23. ^ "American Bandy Association". Usabandy.com. http://www.usabandy.com/home.php?pg=team&d=D1&tid=13. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  24. ^ "The Louie Show" (1996) - Plot Summary
  25. ^ "The Louie Show (a Titles & Air Dates Guide)". Epguides.com. 2011-07-31. http://epguides.com/LouieShow/. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  26. ^ Weber, Bruce. "Robert Isabell, Who Turned Events Into Wondrous Occasions, Dies at 57", The New York Times, July 10, 2009. Accessed July 14, 2009.
  27. ^ "Online Directory: Minnesota, USA". Sister Cities International. http://www.sister-cities.org/icrc/directory/usa/MN. Retrieved 2007-08-18. 


External links

Coordinates: 46°47′13″N 92°05′54″W / 46.786938°N 92.098195°W / 46.786938; -92.098195

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