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The city of Duluth is situated on the northern shore of Lake Superior, where the St. Louis river reaches the lake. The river forms the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin, which means the while Duluth is a part of Minnesota, the city Superior – located just across the bay from Duluth – is in Wisconsin.

This fertile region has a long history of being inhabited by indigenous peoples, including the Ojibwe, and in the 1600s when the fur trade attracted Europeans here in search of beavers. The city of Duluth is named after the French explorer Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, who arrived during this time.

Initially a fur trading outpost, the city of Duluth grew into prominence through the 19th century due to its strategic location as a transportation hub for iron ore. Today, Duluth stands tall as an urban centre that combines historic charm with modern sophistication on the north shore of the stunning Lake Superior. Boasting a rich cultural heritage, varied urban landscapes, and an abundance of natural beauty, Duluth guarantees an unforgettable experience to its residents and visitors alike.

In this article, we will take a look at Duluth, shedding light on its history, economic activities, top attractions, and the lifestyle it offers. 

Short facts about Duluth

  • Duluth is located in Minnesota and is the county seat of St. Louis County.
  • Duluth is a port city at the westernmost point of Lake Superior, in Minnesota’s Arrowhoead Region. From Duluth, boats can reach the Atlantic Ocean some 2,300 miles away by navigating the Great Lakes Waterway and St. Lawrence Seaway. Duluth is accessible to oceangoing ships.
  • Duluth is south of the Iron Range and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
  • At the 2020 census, the city´s population was just below 86,700. This made it one of the larger cities in Minnesota, although Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Rochester are considerably larger.
  • Duluth in Minnesota and Superior in Wisconsin forms a joint metropolitan area, and the two cities are commonly known as The Twin Ports. This is the largest metropolitan area on Lake Superior.


Beaver pelt trading and Duluth’s being a port in the Greate Lakes region of North America played a significant role in shaping its early economy. Currently, the city’s economic landscape is diverse, with sectors such as healthcare, education, retail, and tourism playing significant roles. The city houses the University of Minnesota Duluth and the College of St. Scholastica, strong contributors to local employment and research.

Duluth’s port is still one of the largest and busiest in the Great Lakes, and facilitates the transport of coal, grain, and iron ore, connecting the Midwest to the rest of the world. The city also serves as a hub for outdoor gear companies like Duluth Pack and Epicurean, reflecting the community’s connection to the surrounding environment.


The iconic Aerial Lift Bridge, a marvel of early 20th-century engineering, is a must-visit. Canal Park, located close by, offers a range of restaurants, specialty stores, and a stunning view of Lake Superior.

Minnesota Point, known in Duluth as Park Point, spanns 6 miles and is the world´s longest freshwater baymouth bar.

The Duluth Skyline Parkway offers a 25-mile scenic drive, while the Duluth Traverse provides miles of multi-use trails. Furthermore, the Great Lakes Aquarium, the only all-freshwater aquarium in the U.S., offers an educational journey into marine life.

From Duluth, you can get on boat tours to explore Lake Superior.


Many of the Duluth residents appreciate the combination of urban amenities and close access to nature that this city has to offer. Those living here have access to quality healthcare, diverse education options, and a vibrant arts and music scene. With parks, hiking trails, and the lake just minutes away from any corner of the city, Duluth also offers ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking, giving a unique blend of city life and outdoor recreation.

Duluth, with its rich history, diverse economy, plethora of attractions, and balanced lifestyle, is a city that has a lot to offer. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, or someone who appreciates a robust urban life, Duluth beckons with open arms.

History: Duluth and the Ojibwe

The Ojibwe is an Anishinaabe North American indigenous people whose homeland Ojibwewaki covers much of the Greak Lakes region and the northern plains, and extends all the way to the subarctic and throughout the northeastern woodlands. They are known by several different names, including Ojibwe, Ojibway, and Chippewa. Several nations identify as Ojibwe, including the Oji-Cree, Saulteux, and Nipissings.

The place that today forms the harbour of the city of Duluth once held a Ojibwe settlement and the spot was called Onigamiinsing, which means “at the little portage”. This was a good portage spot across Minnesota Point, between Lake Superior and western St. Louis Bay.

In to Ojibwe oral history, Spirit Island (near the Spirit Valley neighborhood in today´s Duluth) is the “Sixth Stopping Place” – a spot where the northern and southern branches of the Ojibwe came together before continuing together to their “Seventh Stopping Place” close to present-day La Point in Wisconsin. These Stopping Places were locations occupied by Native Americans during forced westward migration promted by European colonization.

Early contact between the Ojibwe at Onigamiinsing and Europeans mostly revolved around the fur trade, especially beaver pelts which were shipped to Europe to become hats. By 1630s, intense hunting in the lower part of the St. Lawrence River had depleted the once great beaver population and French beaver hunters began moving west in search of more animals. Along the way, they traded with Native Americans. Eventually, French fur posts were established near present-day Duluth and in the far north, and Grand Portage developed into a major trading center.

In the late 1700s, the North West Company established several posts on Minnesota rivers and lakes to trade with the Ojibwe, the Dakota, and other indigenous peoples in the region. One of these post was in the place in Wisconsin where Superior later developed, i.e. on the other bank of the St. Louis, opposite of Duluth. Back then, the trading post was called Fort St. Louis and had stockade walls. Over time, both Native Americans and people of European ancestry settled near Fort St. Louis and a town developed.

Fur trading in the area flourished for a long time, but eventually, fashion ideals changed in Europe, and the beaver populations were also becoming depleted. The 1840s marked the end of the fur boom. In the early 1830s, when the fur trade was still lively, the ethnologist Henry Schoolcraft visited the area and wrote about his experiences with the Ojibwe. Later, the U.S. poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow read Schoolcraft´s writings and it formed part of his inspiration for the “The Song of Hiawatha”, an 1855 epic poem relating the fictional adventures of the Ojibwe warrior Hiawatha and his love for the Dakota woman Minnehaha.

In 1820 and 1847, indigenous peoples in the area signed treaties with the United States, and this involved the Ojibwe ceding land to the U.S. Government. In 1854, as part of the Treaty of Washington with the Lake Superior Band of Chippewa, the U.S. Government set aside the Fond du Lac Indian Reservation upstream from Duluth.

This article was last updated on: June 6, 2024