Edgewater Before The Waterpark

The Edgewater East in 1971 looks quite different from the Edgewater Resort & Waterpark today. At this time, the Edgewater had about 80 rooms – before the 100-room south tower addition was added in 1990. (File  / News Tribune)

There were some things missing from the Edgewater Resort and Waterpark about 40 years ago. First of all, it didn’t have a water park or its polynesian island-themed decor.

And the Edgewater’s second hotel across London Road — which is now the Edgewater Express — also didn’t exist until June 1969. The 62-room second hotel was built for $900,000 — scaled back from an initial $1.3 million, 89-room plan — and was called the Edgewater West (below), with the original hotel, the Edgewater East (above), about a block farther east, of course.

(1971 file / News Tribune)

A 1969 News Tribune article published just months before the Edgewater West was completed said the building would be the first all-electric motel in Duluth, with "wood-paneled rooms, ceramic tile baths, individual dressing rooms and air conditioning."

The original Edgewater on the east side of London Road was built in 1952-53, starting with eight rooms, then 15. It was expanded to 40 rooms by 1957. The first 15-unit building (below) was torn down in 1965 to make way for a 41-unit addition, including 12 family rooms “of a new dividable type that are arranged to accommodate families with separate sleeping areas for parents and children,” according to a February 1965 News Tribune article.

The original east wing of the Edgewater was built in 1952 and torn down in 1965 to make way for a new $350,000 41-unit wing, adding to the 40 existing rooms. (1965 file / News Tribune)

The Edgewater East began to look more like it does today when a $5 million expansion with 102 rooms and a four-story recreation atrium housing a pool, sauna and exercise area was opened in 1990. It gave the Edgewater a grand total of 280 rooms, including the east and west hotels. A News Tribune article at the time said it was Duluth’s largest motel complex. Before the Edgewater’s addition, the Radisson topped the list with 268 rooms, followed by the Holiday Inn with 240.

The Edgewater’s south tower, completed in 1990, is connected to the main building of the eastern hotel by a covered walkway. (File / News Tribune)

In January 2006, the Edgewater opened its water park, featuring two four-story slides, an activity pool and a lazy river that circles an exploding volcano. Below, construction workers assemble the new water park.

Carpenters Tim McDade and Bill Salminen prepare skirting to use around the aqua play area in the new Edge waterpark at the Edgewater.
(2005 file / News Tribune)

Hotel visitors enjoy the completed water park below:

Kirk Olson and his daughter Frankianne, 3, enjoy a ride on the lazy river at the Edgewater Resort and Waterpark duing its grand opening ceremony. The water park’s main features are a 400-foot Lazy River, two water slides, an activity pool with cargo-net crossing and water basketball court, hot springs hot tub, an Oasis and Grill and a multi-levelplay structure with three child-sized slides called the Paradise Playground. (2006 file / News Tribune)

I also found this photo of the Edgewater hiding among the other pictures in our archives. There is no indication of when the photo was taken, all that is written on the back of the photo is "Motel Row on east London Road." Does anyone remember Motel Row and what hotels it included? The motel in the back left of this photo is the Lake Aire Motel.



3 Responses

  1. Gay H.

    the Edgewater was a favorite for kids birthday parties—back in the 60’s it was a treat to be able to swim indoors year round! And their sauna was one of the best ever, you could just keep ladling water on the hot stones.

  2. Ellen T

    Thanks for spening the time to compile and write your piece – it certainly brought back many fond memories!

  3. Patt J.

    I spent my honeymoon at the original Edgewater in 1966, and the next day we took a Greyhound bus to Texas. Yup, we sure knew how to live it up in those days!

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