Saving a dog named Scooter at Gooseberry Falls

Enjoying a happy moment together are Gooseberry Falls State Park Manager Paul Sundberg and his daughter’s dog, Scooter, on July 16, 1997.  Sundberg had to rescue Scooter from the bridge construction in the background  after he was found stranded on the beams. (Charles Curtis/News-Tribune)


News-Tribune, July 1997

If you think construction of the new highway bridge at Gooseberry Falls has been a hassle for you, consider the recent plight of Scooter.

Scooter is a 10-year-old springer spaniel mix that lives with Paul and Karla Sundberg, whose home is less than a quarter-mile from the bridge. Paul Sundberg is manager of Gooseberry Falls State Park.

One night this summer, Sundberg forgot to bring Scooter in the house. Sundberg awoke the following morning, a Sunday, and was greeted by park employee Wendell Parker.

“Do you have any idea where your dog is?” Parker asked.

Sundberg didn’t.

“He’s curled up on a piece of plywood in the middle of the new highway bridge,” Parker told Sundberg.

The Minnesota Department of Transportion is replacing the Highway 61 bridge over the Gooseberry River this summer. At the time, only part of the bridge was complete, and most of it was a grid of steel beams. A few foot-wide beams lay across the bridge, and several 3-inch-wide beams ran the length of it. The 3-inch beams were not anchored, just loosely set in place. Between this gridwork was thin air, and below it, about 60 feet, flowed the Gooseberry River.

Near the middle of this gridwork lay two sheets of plywood that workers had been using the previous day, laying one in front of the other to inspect the beams. Somehow, Scooter had run at least 60 feet on one of the 3-inch beams to the island of plywood, then had become too frightened to return.

Sundberg tried to put aside the embarrassment of being a park manager whose dog had been off its leash while he and Parker decided what to do. They alerted the Lake County Sheriff’s Rescue Squad, but took matters into their own hands before the squad arrived.

They got their own piece of plywood, a 4-by-8-foot sheet, and propped it from the base of the old Gooseberry bridge to the top of a 12-inch cross beam on the new bridge. The beam led to the island of plywood where Scooter had taken up residence.

The idea was to coax Scooter across the 25-foot length of beam, then onto the plywood and up to where Sundberg and Parker could grab him. Parker came up with the idea.

“It sounded like a good plan to me,” Sundberg said.

But the feat wouldn’t be easy. The level of the new bridge, where Scooter was, is about 6 feet lower than that of the old bridge. The rescue plywood formed a steep ramp that Scooter would have to scale in order to reach the outstretched arm of Sundberg. Below the beam and the piece of plywood was 45 feet of thin air, then bedrock along the shore of the river.

Sundberg and Parker were in position, Sundberg reaching under the old railing hoping to grab Scooter, Parker standing up, ready to reach over the railing if Scooter got close enough.

“So, I called Scooter, and he comes running over on the beam,” Sundberg said. “I think, ‘OK, this has to be quick.’ I’m reaching through the handrail with one arm. I say, ‘OK. Come on, Scooter.’ ”

Scooter went scooting up the piece of plywood, which was slanted more vertically than horizontally. He almost made it.

“He came about four inches shy of my fingers,” Sundberg said.

Then Scooter started spinning his wheels. He couldn’t sustain traction on the plywood. He started sliding backward. He dropped to his belly. He dug his claws into the plywood as hard as he could. But he kept losing ground.

He dropped back, just managing to catch one paw on the 12-inch beam and scrambling to regain his balance there.

“I figured, this dog does mind, but he’s not going to do this three times. I’ve got to get him this time,” Sundberg said.

Again Sundberg called Scooter. Again Scooter scaled the slant of plywood.

“It was just like the first time,” Sundberg said. “Here he comes just a-running. He gets to the same spot and starts spinning again. But I think he was spinning faster this time.”

Sundberg managed to get one finger under Scooter’s jaw and a thumb over his nose.

“I clamped as hard as I could,” Sundberg said.

He pulled. Scooter kept spinning. Their efforts were just enough. Sundberg got another hand on Scooter’s collar, and Parker, working from the top of the old railing, was able to haul Scooter up to safety.

Sundberg did some tracking that afternoon and discovered that Scooter had been chased from home by wolves during the previous night. He had escaped across the river and up the opposite bank, then had tried to cross the bridge on the single 3-inch beam that led to the oasis of plywood. The wolf tracks followed Scooter to the bridge, then turned back, Sundberg said.

Wolves are not uncommon in the park. A pack of four has been living at Gooseberry for some time, and Sundberg has seen their tracks often.

Sundberg is just glad to have Scooter home again.

“He’s really my daughter’s dog,” Sundberg said. “She (Rebecca, 20) is in France on an exchange program. When she left, she said, ‘Take care of my dog.’ ”

Actually, Sundberg said, Rebecca left four pets for her parents to care for — Scooter, two hermit crabs and an aquatic crab.

“All the crabs have died,” Sundberg said.

Which made Scooter’s rescue all the sweeter.


Sundberg, the highly regarded and popular park manager at Gooseberry Falls since 1983, retired earlier this year.

Here are two related photos, of the “old” Gooseberry Falls bridge and parking area:

Tourists and traffic cross the bridge at Gooseberry Falls State Park on the North Shore of Lake Superior on June 6, 1995. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)


Cars line Highway 61 at Gooseberry Falls State Park on Oct. 1, 1994. (Josh Meltzer / News-Tribune)

Last set of Spalding Hotel photos

Here is the last set of News Tribune archives photos of the Spalding Hotel in downtown Duluth, which was razed in late 1963. If you missed the previous three posts, go here, here and here.

The view of the corner of Superior Street and Fifth Avenue West, from in front of the Spalding Hotel, March 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)


Mrs. Doris Peterson, a 22-year employee of the Spalding Hotel, and Mrs. Dorothy Peterson, a seven-year employee, man the counter as customer Gordon Brindos of Duluth makes a call at the hotel on June 27, 1963. Signs to the left advertise parking at the 4th Ave. Auto Park and the Medical Arts Garage. (News-Tribune file photo)


Customers sit in the lobby of the Spalding Hotel near the newsstand on June 27, 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)


Looking into the Spalding Hotel lobby through the revolving doors on June 27, 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)


Lester Chies walks along the “floor” of the Spalding Hotel ballroom on Oct. 7, 1963. The entire floor is gone, allowing a glimpse into rooms on the third floor as demolition work continues. Chies is walking on the area that once was the head table position. (News-Tribune file photo)


Workers continue the demolition of the Spalding Hotel in downtown Duluth on Nov. 17, 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)


As always, share your stories and memories of the Spalding Hotel by posting a comment.

Silver’s, 1982

August 22, 1982

Silver’s, at 1303 Jefferson St. in Duluth in this view from August 1982, gives little clue it’s anything but a private home. (Joey McLeister / News-Tribune & Herald)

Silver’s: Super chic store in different setting

By Sandy Battin, News-Tribune & Herald staff writer

Silver’s is so exclusive, women tell each other in hushed tones, that you have to call in advance and make an appointment to shop there.

And you can’t just walk inside – you must be introduced by someone who’s been a customer for years, they say knowingly.

Ellie Lindgren, manager of the women’s clothing shop at 1303 Jefferson St., laughs when she hears such talk.

“Maybe they think that’s true because a lot of our customers will call in first and say, ‘Ellie, what’s the best time to come in?’ A lot just don’t like to waste time waiting,” she said.

Or perhaps it’s because they – or their mothers – still remember when the late Ida Silver started her business back in the late 1930s. “She sold the clothes in her apartment, open by appointment in the evenings,” Lindgren said.

The Silver’s mystique has also been fed by the fact that the business neither advertises nor shouts out its presence with an outdoor sign. A small, simple and tasteful engraved nameplate on the door is the only indication that the former carriage house across the street from the Armory is more than an ordinary home.

Those aren’t the only differences about shopping at Silver’s. Gather your curiosity and your courage and go inside.

Mabel Sonju and her daughter, Phlaine Johnson of Two Harbors, relax in the parlor while Ellie Lindgren shows them a blouse. The rack means a special sale is on. (Joey McLeister / News-Tribune & Herald)


Entry is through a room that seems more parlor than place of business. A love seat nestles comfortably behind a pair of small Oriental-style tables just right for serving coffee. Classic prints from Vogue magazines adorn the papered wall.

Mirrored shelves and an old-fashioned dressing table display such things as ceramic pitchers, jade jewelry and woolen scarves. Most unusual, there are jars of jam from England and special vinegars imported from France.

The atmosphere is warm. Customers are greeted by name and with a hug. Coffee and cookies are served and customers stop to admire what Lindgren is wearing, perhaps ask how they’d look in a similar belt or jacket.

Customers are invited into one of the special fitting rooms, a private place furnished with full-length mirrors, an old Chinese chest and a matching lacquered chair. Prints from Godey’s Lady’s Book, Victorian America’s fashion arbiter, set the scene. In elegant luxury, the salesclerk brings clothing she believes will suit and delight you. No racks are in sight anywhere except when a special sale is under way a few times a year.

It’s an atmosphere and a service not found much anymore – even in fashion centers such as New York. “It’s almost like something out of the past,” Lindgren said. “People say it’s quaint, unusual, different.”

Mabel Sonju of London Road in Duluth prepares to try on clothing Ellie Lindgren has selected just for her. (Joey McLeister / News-Tribune & Herald)


If you’ve been a customer for long, chances are Lindgren knows just what you’re looking for. “Each item is picked to suit a special customer’s needs,” Lindgren said. When she flies to New York, Chicago or Houston on a buying trip, Lindgren keeps each of her regular customers in mind. She may buy a dress in one’s favorite color or another in a style that suits someone else.

Such a dress will be the only one to be sold in Duluth. “The dresses in the couture lines we don’t duplicate,” said Wilson Thompson, who has owned the shop for eight years.

Alterations make sure the items fit. “You can change a dress one whole size down or one size up. … Few people are a perfect size 8. We weren’t all stamped out of the same mold,” Lindgren explained.

Lindgren prides herself on knowing her customers’ figures and what will look good on them. “No matter where you buy your clothes, if they don’t fit they’re no good,” she said. “If one of your shoulders is lower than the other, we’ll put in a shoulder pad. If one hip is higher, we’ll let the hem down a little on that side. We … alter their clothes according to their figures.

“Help (store employees) is not something that changes every month,” she said. “That’s why they’re able to give the special service.

“How many times have you been dressed and pampered?”

Ellie Lindgren, manager of Silver’s in Duluth, shows off some of the clothing in stock. (Joey McLeister / News-Tribune & Herald)


Some women fly in from Oklahoma, Texas or Minneapolis just to shop Silver’s. Another woman has a selection of clothing sent to her in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Clothing is from such designers as Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Adelle Simpson and “lots of silk from China,” Lindgren said.

Each piece of clothing is registered with a description at the shop. “We’ve had people with fires, thefts and so forth,” Thompson said, “and we’re able to tell them what they paid for it.”

Lindgren likes to describe the clothing Silver’s sells as unique. “We sell some classics, but also the unusual, the different, the extraordinary, the elegant.”

“But things are not so high-style that they’re not usable,” added Thompson. “A lot of people have the mistaken opinion that we’re high priced. I think we have a price for everyone. Maybe we won’t have a $39 dress but, in the intermediate range, we’d have something for $69.”

The difference is also that Silver’s urges women to try clothes they might have believed they could never look and feel good in. “We dare to do something a little bit out of the ordinary,” Lindgren said. “When you pay $200 for an outfit you want something that’s a little daring. … Everybody likes to be feminine and young-looking.

“You want, when you come into a room, for there to be an intake of breath.”


A sign in the window of Silver’s Dress Shop, 1123 E. Superior St., says it has temporarily closed on January 15, 2001.(Bob King / News Tribune)

At some point after 1982, Silver’s moved to the big mansion at 1123 E. Superior St. – one of the houses threatened with demolition as Walgreens wants to build a new store on the site. Efforts are under way to move and save the mansion.

Silver’s shows up again in the archives in late 2000 and early 2001, as its inventory was seized to be auctioned off by the IRS to pay off federal tax liens in excess of $300,000.

Emily Hanson, 19, of Duluth, expresses her delight with the fit and style of this long, black formal dress at Silver Rose in June 2001. Emily was shopping for a dress with her mom, Pat. (Ann Arbor Miller / News Tribune)

In June 2001, the store reopened at the Superior Street location under new ownership as Silver Rose. While it’s no longer in operation on Superior Street, I think the business continues today in Cloquet – correct me if I’m wrong.

And as for the carriage house on Jefferson Street that house Silver’s for so many years, it’s gone – does anyone know when it was torn down? The National Bank of Commerce now occupies the site.

Share your memories of Silver’s by posting a comment.

Gunflint Trail school bus ride, 1988

Minnesota Public Radio ran a story earlier this month about the extremely long school bus ride endured every day by students who live up the Gunflint Trail.

The News Tribune did its own story on that long bus ride almost 22 years ago, in November 1988. The driver is different, but much remains the same…

Paul Werdier stands by his school bus on November 15, 1988, at the start of the Gunflint Trail in Grand Marais. (Tom Dennis / News-Tribune)

Gunflint Trail run means a long day for the bus driver

By Tom Dennis, News-Tribune

Paul Werdier cranks open the door to his school bus and climbs aboard, holding a snow shovel and a double-bladed axe.

“Yeah, I guess I carry a few things on this bus that others don’t,” he says.

The supplies go behind the driver’s seat, where the spare boots and blankets are kept in winter. Werdier double-checks the oil, the lights and the emergency heater. He punches the ignition and the big diesel roars into life.

It’s 5 a.m. in Grand Marais. The longest school-bus run in Minnesota has begun.

Twice a day, every school day, Werdier makes a 114-mile trip up and down the Gunflint Trail. The night is black as he rolls through the empty streets of Grand Marais.

“I’ll be surprised if we don’t see two or three moose today,” he says. “After a big snow, I’ve seen them goofy moose lie right down in the middle of the road, licking up the salt.

“Does that ever wake you up.”

The bus swings north into the woods, which stretch unbroken all the way to Hudson Bay. A few inches of snow have fallen overnight; the bus fishtails ever so slightly as Werdier negotiates the winding road.

“It’s a little slushy out,” he says. “Once in a while I’ll see a logger who got up early. But usually I’m the first one breaking trail.”

Werdier, 40, has been making the Gunflint run for about a year. The hours are long, he admits. He starts at 5, gets back at about 8:15 a.m. and works in a Grand Marais lumber yard until 3. Then the afternoon run up the trail begins, which puts him home about 7. He goes to bed at 8:30.

Working several jobs is about the only way to survive in small towns these days, he says. “Anyway, I don’t mind it. I like this time of day. I’ve always liked the morning.”

Miles rumble by in comfortable quiet. The headlights illuminate the road, but the woods seem to soak up light like a sponge.

Suddenly two moose dart off the road and into a gully. “Well, look at that,” Werdier says, watching them gallop. “A cow and a calf. Our first two of the day.”

Werdier has never hit a moose, but he did smack a downed tree one time. And the big bus has broken down more than once.

But when that happens, Gunflint parents respond. “When you’re not at your stop, they come looking for you,” he says. “Just sit tight and wait. Pretty soon they’ll be driving by.”

At 6:20 a.m., an hour and 20 minutes after the run began, Werdier parks in a turnaround near the tip of the trail. He takes a break for a few minutes and rubs his eyes. Then he starts back down.

The bus slows, the blinkers flash and two small forms materialize by the side of the road. The door opens and two grade-school boys, bundled up snug in wool hats and winter coats, climb aboard.

“Hi, Mark. Hi, Peter,” Werdier says. “Hi, Paul,” Mark answers.

The boys are quiet as they take their seats.

“Sometimes the kids talk. They fill you in on what’s going on,” Werdier says later. “But sometimes they sleep all the way into town. They sleep in the afternoon, too; a 10-hour day is a long one for a kindergartner, that’s for sure.”

The bus slows again. “Morning, Joey,” Werdier says to the youngster who steps aboard.

“Joey lives on an island on the lake over there,” Werdier says. “He comes over by canoe. In the winter, he snowmobiles.”

Two girls at the next stop bear gifts and shy smiles. In the distance, a parent stands silhouetted in a cabin doorway.

“Well, look at this. I get coffee this morning,” Werdier says, accepting a cup from the first girl. “And a doughnut, too,” a gift from the second. “Thank you both very much.”

Six youngsters are aboard for the trip back down the trail. The hour passes quickly and quietly; a glance toward the back door shows several pairs of boots sticking into the aisle. Only a few wool-hatted heads are visible.

Dawn breaks; the sun comes up; and the bus approaching Grand Marais awakens, too. Youngsters board by the handful at one stop after another. For the few minutes before reaching the Grand Marais schools, the bus is just another school bus, noisy and crowded and alive.

Then it empties, and all is quiet again. Werdier sighs with relief. “That’s that,” he says with a grin.

The longest bus ride in Minnesota is complete.

Yes, still more Spalding Hotel photos

Here’s the third batch of what will be four posts with photos from Duluth’s long-lost Spalding Hotel. Enjoy…

Morris Mark and Miss Jessie Rawlings at the front desk of Duluth’s Spalding Hotel on June 27, 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)


Mandy B. Tondel, a guest at the Spalding Hotel for more than 20 years, checks in his key to head room clerk Doris Peterson in June 1963. The hotel was demolished several months later. (News-Tribune file photo)


Hotel guest Harmon Brown in an alcove off the main lobby of the Spalding Hotel in downtown Duluth on June 27, 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)


The dining room at the Spalding Hotel on June 27, 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)


Harold A. “Red” Hansen, a 10-year employee of the Spalding Hotel, tends the bar in the cocktail lounge on June 27, 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)


A parlor inside the Spalding Hotel in downtown Duluth in June 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)


As always, share your stories about the Spalding Hotel by posting a comment.

More Spalding Hotel photos

As promised, here are some more photos from the Spalding Hotel right before it closed in 1963. I still have enough left for at least one more post after this.

This batch of photos is from the roof and rooftop pavilion atop the hotel. I’m not sure when the pavilion was shut down, but it looks pretty dilapidated in these photos, so it must have been some time well before these photos were taken.

C. Russell McLean, manager of the Spalding Hotel, views the Aerial Lift Bridge from the old Spalding roof pavilion on July 1, 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)


Hotel manager Russ McLean at the old Spalding Hotel roof pavilion on June 27, 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)


Hotel manager Russ McLean at the old Spalding Hotel roof pavilion on June 27, 1963. This view is looking southwest toward the Point of Rocks. (News-Tribune file photo)


Looking southwest along the southeast-facing wall of the old Spalding Hotel roof pavilion on June 27, 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)


Looking down from the roof of the Spalding Hotel toward the corner of Superior Street and Fifth Avenue West on July 1, 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)

You can see the sign for the 5th Avenue Hotel and its New Yorker Patio at lower left. Here’s a closer look at the storefronts along Superior Street:


This a photo that ran a while back on this blog. It’s a view looking east over downtown Duluth in 1960, and includes the Spalding Hotel:

Here’s a zoomed-in view in which you can see the pavilion atop the Spalding, to the right of the big sign:


And here’s one more exterior shot of the Spalding. It’s not dated, but it looks like it might be from the 1930s:


As with the last post, please share any Spalding Hotel stories you have by posting a comment. A few readers shared stories about the hotel after the previous post, and I’ll share those on the next post.