Duluth’s Tourism Tradition & The St. Louis River Corridor

St. Louis River Projects Moving Forward

Congratulations to Duluth!

On March 23rd, 2015 the Duluth City Council voted unanimously to approve resolution 175 – a resolution to support continued planning and design of recreation and tourism projects in the St. Louis River Corridor. At least 6 of the 9 councilors indicated how “stoked” they were about the project… and we couldn’t agree more!

This is a huge step forward for Duluth and begins the next chapter in a long story of tourism in the western part of the city. These projects will increase access to some of the most amazing recreational opportunities in the city and connect local communities to the resources we all hold so dear.

Related: Duluth Seeking Comments on The St. Louis River Estuary Water Trail Master Plan

Spirit Lake Kayak

Duluth’s Tourism Tradition

Future Duluthians will reflect on last night’s vote as an historic moment. And it is important to remember that Western Duluth and the St. Louis River Corridor have a long history of tourist ventures. Yes, today’s opportunities for the development of recreation infrastructure are unique. There’s no doubt about that. But there is a long history of recreation and relaxation in Western Duluth.

ZCA_WF_Montauk_XcommSmithville, for example is located at was initially developed as a tourist retreat representing one of the the first substantial attempts at tourism in the area. In 1888, Edward and Albert Swenson opened the Spirit Lake Hotel which advertised the “best summer resort at the head of the lakes”. Although the resort never achieved grand success, Smithville would later develop around it.

During the 1890’s a small fleet of excursion steamers would navigate the St. Louis River as far as Fond du Lac where Duluthians would venture for weekend getaways. Beaches along the river were also a draw and we’ve heard that there were (are?) even some beaches where clothing was optional.

Interested in Duluth’s tourism tradition? Check out Zenith City Online’s article titled Summer time has long meant tourist time in Duluth

Lots of Thanks to Give

Thanks to the previous and current Administration – notably Jim Filby Williams and the Parks & Recreation Staff – for their effective leadership on the vision and thanks to the various user groups and community organizations who have contributed substantial effort to help make this whole process a reality.

We have a long ways to go… but you’re going to see some amazing things happen along the St. Louis River Corridor in the years to come! An opportunity has presented itself and the City of Duluth is going for it!

Barley's Angels border

Are you interested in exploring The St. Louis River Estuary? Visit our St. Louis River Kayak Adventure Page and book your tour today.

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