I am going to pick up the trail in hidden history based on your suggestions in the vicinity of where I left it at the end of “Short and Sweet #4.”
I ended with a linear alignment between Minneapolis on the southwest end and Halifax in Nova Scotia on the northeast end, with Manitoulin Island in Ontario and Montreal in Quebec in-between.
Viewer JT suggested that I look into Duluth, Minnesota on Lake Superior, and this is a good place to begin.
He suggested starting at the history of the Merritt Brothers and the railroad, so I will.
The Merritt family came to the Minnesota Territory in 1855 and 1856 from Pennsylvania after the 1854 Treaty of LaPointe was signed in Wisconsin between the U. S. Government and representatives of the Ojibwe of Lake Superior and the Mississippi.
As a result of this treaty, the Ojibwe ceded all of the Lake Superior Ojibwe lands in the Arrowhead Region of Northeastern Minnesota to the United States in exchange for reservations for the Lake Superior Ojibwe in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota.
The Merritt family settled in Oneota, which is now West Duluth, where they ran a hotel, and the father, Lewis, worked as a lumberman and millwright.
Lewis also prospected for gold in what was called the Vermilion Lake Gold Rush of 1865 to 1866 in the Mesabi Mountain Ranges because gold specks were found in quartz stone there in 1865.
Like the other prospectors, he couldn’t find any gold, but someone gave him a piece of iron ore that caused him to speculate there was more of the that to be found in northern Minnesota.
There are four iron ranges around Lake Superior in Minnesota and Ontario: the Vermilion; the Mesabi; the Gunflint; and the Cuyuna.
They are classified as not mountains, but outcrops of sedimentary formations containing high-percentages of iron from the Precambrian-geologic era, which was four-to-six-billion-years ago to 541-million-years ago.
Lewis Merritt and his wife Hepziabeth had eight sons.
One of their sons, Leonidas, purchased land in the Mesabi Range in northern Minnesota after he surveyed and mapped the surrounding area for iron ore, and opened the Mountain Iron Mine in the early 1890s, which became the largest iron ore deposit ever discovered.
He was joined by 6 of his brothers, and what became known as the “Seven Iron Brothers” owned the largest iron mine in the world in the 1890s.
In 1891, the Merritt family incorporated the Duluth, Missabe, and Northern Railway Company to build a 70-mile, or 113-kilometer-long, railroad from the mine to the port at Superior, Wisconsin, which was south of Duluth, raising the money needed in exchange for bonds from the railroad company.
Their success attracted the attention of John D. Rockefeller, who wanted to expand into the iron ore business, and the Merritts put their company stock up as collateral to borrow money from Rockefeller in order to fund the railroad.
Long story short, the Merritts ended up being financially ruined, and Rockefeller came to own both the mine and the railroad.
After Rockefeller assumed ownership in 1894, he leased his iron ore properties and the railroad to the Carnegie Steel Company in 1896.
John D. Rockefeller sold the railway to United States Steel in 1901, after it had been formed by the merger of the merger of Andrew Carnegie’s Carnegie Steel Company, Elbert Gary’s Federal Steel Company, and William Henry Moore’s National Steel Company in 1901, which was financed by J. P. Morgan.
Other places that JT suggested looking at in Duluth are the Enger Tower, which is a 80-foot, or 24-meter stone observation tower that has 5-stories, and was built on Enger Hill.
The tower was said to have been constructed as a tribute to businessman and philanthropist Bert Enger, a Norwegian-immigrant who came to Duluth in 1903 and set-up a furniture store with his business partner Emil Olson, which turned into a prosperous business over the years.
Enger donated a sizeable amount of his estate to the city of Duluth, which included Enger Hill, Enger Park, and Enger Golf Course.
There is a panoramic view from Enger Tower and Enger Hill of the Twin Ports of Duluth and Lake Superior, including great view of the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge.
A movable, lift-bridge, it spans the Duluth Ship Canal and Minnesota Point, and said to have been constructed between 1901 and 1905, and modified in 1929.
Both the Aerial Lift Bridge and Enger Tower are lit up at night, with different colors for different occasions and causes.
JT also mentioned the Kitchee Gammi Club.
It is the oldest incorporated club in Minnesota, having been founded in 1883, and originally met at Duluth’s Grand Opera House, which was said to have only stood for six years, from 1883 to 1889 – at which time a mysterious fire that began at Grasser’s Grocery store, got out of control and by the time it was put out, the Grand Opera House was in ruins.
The current Kitchee Gammi Club building was said to have been designed by prominent New Yorkarchitect Bertram Goodhue, and built between 1911 and 1913, with a 1914 opening.
The architecture is said to be “Jacobean Revival Style,” for features like bay windows, rectangular windows, triangular gables, and high ceilings, with Jacobean architecture being named after King James I of England and James VI of Scotland whose reign it is associated with.
As a matter of fact, here is a comparison between the Kitchee Gammi Club in Duluth on the left, and the Castle Bromwich Hall in Birmingham, England, on the right, said to have been built between 1557 and 1585.
There are two possibilities here – the Kitchee Gammi Club House truly represents a revival of Jacobean Architecture, and was built when it was by who was said to have built it…or its not, and was already built.
The name of the Kitchee Gammi Club is based on “Gitche Gumee,” the Ojibwe name for Lake Superior, and best known to the general public for being mentioned in the opening verse of in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “The Song of Hiawatha…”
…and it was mentioned in the opening verse of Gordon Lightfoot’s song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”
One more thing I want to bring up before leaving Duluth is this map I found, circa 1911, of the Duluth Street Railway Company.
I have circled the place where the Aerial Lift Bridge is marked on the map.
The Duluth Street Railway Company was said to have been incorporated in 1881, and that the first mule-pulled trolley cars were available for service in 1883…
…and that by 1892, the entire line was electrified.
The Highland Park Tramway Line served Duluth Heights via an Incline-Railway from 1892 to 1939, which was the last piece of the electric streetcar system to be dismantled, as the rest started going away in the early 1930s.
I had two viewers comment on places to look at in Kansas City, Missouri, which is located almost exactly mid-way between Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is 412-miles, or 662-kilometers northeast of Kansas City, and Dallas, Texas, which is 454-miles, or 731-kilometers, southwest of Kansas City, keeping in mind that Kansas City is split between the states of Kansas and Missouri.
HW said that Kansas City in Missouri has an area called West Bottoms, that is always hit harder when it floods in Kansas City than other parts of the city.
And no wonder, considering that West Bottoms is located on land that is situated between the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers, and was also the original Central Industrial District of Kansas City, and is one of the oldest areas of the city.
The first Hannibal Bridge, the oldest bridge crossing the Missouri River, was said to have been completed in 1869, after its construction started in 1867, two-years after the end of the American Civil War, and was the first permanent rail crossing of the Missouri River.
It established Kansas City as a major city and rail center.
After the completion of the Hannibal Bridge, we are told the need for the Kansas City Union Depot arose.
After all, soon after the Hannibal Bridge opened, it carried eight railroads shipping freight to major trade centers in the east, like St. Louis, Chicago, and New York.
This is a historical map of what was called the “Natural Port of Kansas City,” with the West Bottoms District highlighted in blue, and the freight houses of 12 different railroads are listed by number in the red square on the left-hand-side, and the locations by number of each freight house in the red square that is contained completely within the West Bottoms District.
The first Kansas City Union Depot opened in 1878, andsaid to be the largest building west of New York of the time, and located near the stockyards.
The first Union Depot train station was razed to the ground in 1915, after only 32-years of use, after the Kansas City’s second main train station, Union Station opened in 1914, the same year that World War I began.
The New Union Station is still in use by Amtrak as a train station today, in addition to housing museums, theaters, and restaurants and shops.
The Kansas City Livestock Exchange and Stockyards in West Bottoms were established in 1871, and at its peak, only the stockyards in Chicago were larger, of which this is a photo circa 1909.
We are told the Kansas City Livestock Exchange and Stockyards was built around the facilities of the Central Overland California and Pike’s Peak Express Company.
The Central Overland California and Pike’s Peak Express Company was a subsidiary of a freighting company that operated as a stagecoach line starting in 1859, and was the parent company of the Pony Express that ran from April of 1860 to October of 1861.
The stagecoach line went out of business in 1862.
The Kansas City Livestock Exchange and Stockyards, along with the whole of West Bottoms, has had major floods over the years as HW shared, in 1903…
…and after the 1951 flood, the Kansas City Livestock Exchange and Stockyards and associated businesses were devastated, and it closed its doors for good in 1991.
The Livestock Exchange building, said to have been completed in 1911, was renovated and today is commercial business space…
…as are many of the old buildings in West Bottoms, known for its art galleries, restaurants, antique stores…
…and haunted houses.
Another viewer, MA, suggested looking into the Nelson-Atkin Museum of Art in Kansas City.
She said it is a massive building, and was said to have been completed in 1933…which would have been in the middle of the Great Depression.
The building was said to have been designed by prominent Kansas City architects, Wight and Wight, with groundbreaking in 1930 on the grounds of Oak Hill, home of Kansas City Star publisher William Rockhill Nelson who left a fortune in his will for purchasing art for public enjoyment, in conjunction with $300,000 bequeathed in the will of Mary McAfee Atkins, the widow of a Kansas City real estate developer, establish an art museum.
The humongous badminton shuttlecocks were added to the grounds in 1994 as contemporary art.
Inside this magnificent building built during the Great Depression, there are marble floors, staircases, columns, and ornate marble alcoves and hallways.
She said the front entrance has six, 3-story-tall, Ionic Columns.
…and Ionic columns are found on either end of the building.
She said the windows on that lower level were half buried at the back of the building, and this is a photo I found behind the Bloch Building, an addition to the main museum which opened in 2005.
Slide 55: When I was looking around for information on the early history of Kansas City, Missouri, the following information and photos stand out.
A Rock Ledge became the landing place for riverboats and wagon trains starting in 1833, on the southside of the Missouri River at what became Kansas City, Missouri.
And all of these strata of limestone are underneath the surface where the rock ledge is located.
I just want to point out that limestone was a common building material in the ancient world, and used in constructions like the Pyramids of Giza…
…and the Western Wall, also known as the “Wailing Wall,” an ancient limestone wall in the old city of Jerusalem.
…and places that are officially identified as canals have rock ledges.
Other historic pictures that I would like to include of Kansas City, Missouri, include this one of when it was called “Gulley Town” in the 1860s and 1870s…
…and I found these views of Wyandotte Street as it looked in 1868…
…and here are historic photos of some of the buildings on Wyandotte Street circa 1928.
I am going to divide “Short & Sweet #5” into two-parts because I had more on my list to add to this post, and I will get out those other places in “Short & Sweet #5B,” including Iowa, Indiana, in the North Sea, and Japan, and maybe a few more if I can work them in.
This series will run over a long period of time, and I will be focusing in each one on just a few places and topics to research that viewers have suggested to me to keep them “Short & Sweet.”
I have a long-list of places to research that viewers have sent me, and I welcome more suggestions moving forward as I will keep doing this series concurrently with the more in-depth research I always do, for which I have a long list to work on as well!