Day 447: Uncouth in Duluth

Although it is a thousand miles from the ocean, Duluth, Minnesota is a deep-water port for ocean-going ships that come in through the St. Lawrence Seaway. The metropolitan area that includes the Twin Ports of Duluth and Superior, Wisconsin is the largest Great Lakes port for shipping grain from the Midwest farm belt, coal from the western coalfields, and taconite (low-grade iron ore concentrated into pellets) from the Mesabi Iron Range to ports elsewhere on the Great Lakes and throughout the world.

Laetitia and her group began the day at the Great Lakes Aquarium, which features mostly regional fish and wildlife, but occasionally has special exhibits from elsewhere. Afterward they went to Glensheen, a Jacobean revival mansion built on the shore of Lake Superior in 1908 by Chester Congdon, a wealthy lawyer and investor. The interior of the mansion is decorated in late Victorian, Arts and Crafts, and Art Nouveau styles. Members of the Congdon family lived in the house until 1977, when Elizabeth, the youngest daughter was found murdered. The husband of Elizabeth’s adopted daughter was convicted of the crime. The property was donated to the University of Minnesota Duluth, and in 1979 it opened for tours.

The group visited Canal Park and watched a ship enter the harbor under the lift bridge. Some gossip heard during Laetitia’s pre-dinner happy hour sojourn provided the limerick of the day.

An old lady who lived in Duluth
Was denounced as corrupter of youth
For she never did squelch
Her penchant to belch
In a manner both loud and uncouth.

Day 446: Defrocked in Proctor

Laetitia and her group made a slight diversion to Proctor, essentially a Duluth exurb, before going to the city itself. Proctor grew up in the late nineteenth century as a rail-yard for Duluth. It got its name in an interesting way. In 1871, J. Proctor Knott, a United States Representative from Kentucky, delivered a satirical speech called The Untold Delights of Duluth in an attempt to block a land grant to a northern Wisconsin railroad company. Newspapers all over America printed the speech, which succeeded in its intended effect of squelching the deal, but it made “Duluth” a household word. Whether or not the speech’s readers knew that the effusive praise they were reading about Duluth and environs was satire is unknown, but it gave many Americans a positive impression of this otherwise little-known area. In honor of the speech’s contribution to the area’s economic development, the city that grew up around the Duluth rail-center was named Proctorknott, and later just Proctor.

Laetitia took her group to the Proctor Hogshead Festival, which celebrates the city’s railroad history. The day’s events included a handcar race, a spike-driving contest, and a golden spike treasure hunt, in addition to the more common festival events, such as parades, car shows, rides, and food. At happy hour that afternoon, some local gossip from the bartender was the source of the limerick of the day.

A lady transvestite from Proctor
Who dressed as a handsome male doctor
Bothered folks not the least
‘Til she posed as a priest
And irked some old nuns who defrocked her.

Day 445: Jack Sack

Laetitia’s group began the day with a visit to Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior. Lake Superior is the graveyard for more than 300 ships, most of which sank in the nineteenth century. Lighthouses like the one at Split Rock, built at the beginning of the twentieth century, made lake navigation safer. Afterward the group spent much of the day hiking in Gooseberry Falls State Park before heading south to Two Harbors, where they were spending the evening. Two Harbors is a port city—one of the places where taconite from the Mesabi Iron Range is loaded on ships to be carried through the Great Lakes to Steel Mills in Indiana and Ohio.

Hockey is probably the most popular team sport in Two Harbors, but the gossip at the pub where Laetitia had her before dinner drink was about football and a highschool linebacker who showed great promise. The gossip provided the limerick of the day.

In Two Harbors, a fellow named Jack
Was well known to be good in the sack
Who though no Green Bay Packer
Was an able linebacker
And the scourge of each foe’s quarterback.

Day 444: Boozy Floozy

Laetitia’s group drove through the pine woods to the North Shore of Lake Superior. They started at the falls of the Pigeon River, which is the border between Canada and the United States. Next they visited Grand Portage National Monument. During the fur trade era in the late eighteenth century, the Northwest Company had their headquarters there. Each summer trappers from the north woods and “pork eaters” in large lake canoes rendezvoused at the headquarters. The trappers traded their furs for the supplies the pork eaters brought from Montreal. Allegedly a bit of partying went on as well. Afterward, the trappers returned to the woods, and the pork eaters took the furs back to Montreal, where they were loaded on ships for markets in Europe.

Heading down the shore, Laetitia and her group stopped at Judge C. R. Magney State Park, where they hiked up the Brule River to the Devil’s Kettle. Then they visited Cascade Falls before heading for Schroeder, where they were spending the night. At the pub before dinner, some gossip about a promiscuous local woman provided the limerick of the day.

A boozy young floozy from Schroeder
Said of gentlemen who had bestrode her
That they came in all sizes
And few would win prizes
And most of them “jest barely knowed her.”