Last Place on Earth, 1985

April 5, 1985

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Jim Carlson and his macaw, Lapoe, pose for a photo near the Top 30 albums he sells for $4.98 at his Last Place on Earth in downtown Duluth in a photo taken April 2, 1985. (Jack Rendulich / News-Tribune file photo)

Last Place on Earth has some great bargains in records

Bob Ashenmacher, Duluth News-Tribune

How do they do it?

How does the Last Place on Earth record store at 102 E. Superior St. sell the Top 30 albums and cassette tapes for $4.98 when many record stores charge $8.98?

“We’re losing money on the $4.98 price,” said owner Jim Carlson of Duluth. “Our wholesale price is $5.75 and with freight and handling you’re supposed to come out at about $6 to break even. The suggested list (price) is $8.98.” Some of the latest popular releases, such as the current albums by Foreigner and Duran Duran, are as high as $9.98 in some stores, Carlson said.

The $4.98 albums and tapes are what’s called a “loss leader” item, meaning they lose a certain amount of money for the store but bring in patrons who end up buying other items, ultimately increasing business and spurring profits.

The Last Place on Earth’s moneymakers are other albums priced at $7.50 and merchandise such as smoking paraphernalia, posters, T-shirts and martial arts supplies.

Last Place on Earth owner Jim Carlson, December 1985 (News-Tribune file photo)

Last Place on Earth owner Jim Carlson, December 1985 (News-Tribune file photo)

“I got the idea from a record magazine,” Carlson said. “A store in Florida did it and just increased business tremendously.”

The gambit has worked, he said. Since implementing it on March 4, the store’s fourth anniversary, “we’ve done almost as good as Christmas, and March should be a dead month.”

In the last year Carlson has increased his work force from four full-time employees to eight full-time and one part-time. His current location has three times the floor space and double the inventory of his old storefront, down the street a bit.

The record companies don’t mind his low prices, he said, “because if a kid goes up to Musicland he gets one record for $10. He comes down here and gets two records for $10, so they move twice as much product.”

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Last Place on Earth, as seen when it was located at 33 E. Superior St. in 1996. (Josh Meltzer / News-Tribune file photo)

Last Place on Earth, as seen when it was located at 33 E. Superior St. in 1996. (Josh Meltzer / News-Tribune file photo)

The Last Place on Earth was located at 102 E. Superior St. when that story ran in 1985; it had moved to 33 E. Superior St. — the building seen above — by 1994.

In 1996, that building was facing condemnation — it’s now the location of the Technology Village building — and Carlson moved a block down the street to 120 E. Superior St. That’s where Last Place on Earth would remain until it was shut down by authorities in 2013. Carlson is serving a 17½-year prison sentence on charges that he sold illegal synthetic drugs out of the building.

The building at 120 E. Superior St. now is slated to house a brewery and taproom for Blacklist Artisan Ales.

Some more photos of the Last Place on Earth buildings can be found below; click on any of the images with this post for a larger view. Share your stories and memories by posting a comment.

August 1994 view of Last Place on Earth, 33 E. Superior St. in downtown Duluth. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune file photo)

August 1994 view of Last Place on Earth, 33 E. Superior St. in downtown Duluth. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune file photo)

Last Place on Earth building at 120 E. Superior St. in downtown Duluth, as seen in August 1996. (Kathy Strauss / News-Tribune file photo)

Last Place on Earth building at 120 E. Superior St. in downtown Duluth, as seen in August 1996. (Kathy Strauss / News-Tribune file photo)

Last Place on Earth at 120 E. Superior St. in Duluth, as seen in July 2010. (Clint Austin / News Tribune file photo)

Last Place on Earth at 120 E. Superior St. in Duluth, as seen in July 2010. (Clint Austin / News Tribune file photo)

The building at 120 E. Superior St. in downtown Duluth that formerly housed Last Place on Earth, as seen in May 2015. (Clint Austin / News Tribune file photo)

The building at 120 E. Superior St. in downtown Duluth that formerly housed Last Place on Earth, as seen in May 2015. (Clint Austin / News Tribune file photo)

40th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

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A tranquil sunrise over Lake Superior as seen from Canal Park in Duluth on Nov. 10, 2015 – the 40th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Four freighters were visible on the lake at the time. (Andrew Krueger / akrueger@duluthnews.com)

Today – Nov. 10, 2015 – is the 40th anniversary of the wreck of the freighter Edmund Fitzgerald in a ferocious storm on Lake Superior. Today’s peaceful sunrise in Duluth was about as far as the weather could get from the conditions four decades ago.

After leaving Superior with a load of taconite, the ship sank on the evening of Nov. 10, 1975, in eastern Lake Superior off Whitefish Point with the loss of all 29 men on board.

The freighter Edmund Fitzgerald is guided by the tug Vermont under the Blatnik Bridge and through the opening in the Interstate Bridge in this undated photo from the 1960s. There are people (construction workers?) up on the Blatnik Bridge, so I’m thinking this may be from before it opened in 1961. The Fitzgerald was launched in 1958. So that would put the photo about 1960. (News-Tribune file photo)

The freighter Edmund Fitzgerald is guided by the tug Vermont under the Blatnik Bridge and through the opening in the Interstate Bridge in this undated photo from the 1960s. There are people (construction workers?) up on the Blatnik Bridge, so I’m thinking this may be from before it opened in 1961. The Fitzgerald was launched in 1958. So that would put the photo about 1960. (News-Tribune file photo)

I posted archive photos and other information about the Fitzgerald in 2010, on the 35th anniversary of the wreck. You can view that post here.

The News Tribune has run several articles in recent days, tied to the anniversary of the wreck. Read them here and here.

The front page of the Nov. 11, 1975 Duluth Herald, reporting news of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The front page of the Nov. 11, 1975 Duluth Herald, reporting news of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Here’s a video that includes recordings of marine radio traffic in the immediate aftermath of the Fitzgerald going missing:

Here’s a video of Gordon Lightfoot’s famous song about the wreck, including photos and footage of the ship:

And here’s a News Tribune video from 2011, of the annual memorial ceremony held at Split Rock Lighthouse on the North Shore of Minnesota. The ceremony will be held again this afternoon; click here for details:

Share your memories by posting a comment.

Duluth’s Seven Corners

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An aerial view looking across Seven Corners and down Lower Piedmont Avenue in Duluth on June 7, 2000. (Renee Knoeber / News-Tribune)

Seven Corners was a famous – infamous? – traffic intersection / bottleneck in Duluth, where Piedmont Avenue, Skyline Parkway, Trinity Road and 24th Avenue West all met in a somewhat confusing, jumbled junction.

Why “Seven Corners” when there seem to be only six? I’ve heard that some people considered the Lincoln Park parkway – visible coming up to Skyline Parkway through the trees at lower right – the “seventh” corner. Or is there another reason? Share what you know by posting a comment.

The whole area underwent a major change in the early 2000s as Lower Piedmont Avenue / Trinity Road was converted to a four-lane highway and the junction reworked. What had been one intersection was split into three separate junctions. The traffic bottlenecks are now mostly a thing of the past. Here are some more views of the old Seven Corners / Piedmont area:

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Traffic runs smoothly through the infamous Seven Corners intersection where new traffic lights were turned on in December 1996. (Kathy Strauss / News-Tribune)

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Traffic fills the lanes of Lower Piedmont Avenue below Seven Corners on June 7, 2000. (Bob King / News-Tribune)

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A line of northbound vehicles extending from Seven Corners down to Tenth Street on Piedmont Avenue waited for more than 20 minutes to finally pass through the intersection on June 19, 1997. Work crews were building a new sidewalk which closed one of the two lanes for much of the day. (Josh Meltzer / News-Tribune)

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The Food ‘N Fuel at 1323 Piedmont Ave. (Seven Corners), seen here on Feb. 22, 2001. It had to move because of its position in the path of the expansion of Piedmont Avenue. (Jessica Shold / News-Tribune)

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Construction underway in the Seven Corners area on June 25, 2004. Trinity Road is at upper left; the under-construction Skyline Parkway bridge over Piedmont Avenue is at upper right. (Derek Neas / News-Tribune)

What do you remember about Seven Corners? Share your memories by posting a comment.

London Road, circa 1960s

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This view from sometime in the 1960s shows London Road in Duluth, looking west toward the Plaza shopping center, visible at upper right. The steeple of First Lutheran Church can be seen in the distance. Click on the photo for a larger view.

Here’s a zoomed-in view of the Plaza, with a J.C. Penney store in the space now occupied by a Super One grocery store:

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The photographer is standing in front of an out-of-frame gas station. Perhaps it’s the Lakehead Service Center at 1530 London Road, seen in this photo from about the same time:

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You can read more about the gas station here.

What do you remember about that stretch of London Road? What stores do you remember going to at the Plaza? Share your memories by posting a comment.

Panoramic view of Duluth’s police force, circa 1918

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The photo above is a detail from a great panoramic photo posted online by the Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives at the University of Minnesota Duluth. It’s a photo of what must have been the entire Duluth police force – along with some city dignitaries, perhaps – at the Civic Center in downtown Duluth, in front of the St. Louis County Courthouse. Here’s the full image; click and zoom in for a much-larger view:

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You can find an even higher-resolution version here.

The stitched-together image is a bit deceiving; the officers on the far left are facing southeast and the ones at far right are facing northwest; there’s a 180-degree curve concealed in the image.

It’s hard to date the photo exactly, but it’s from between 1910 – when the Alworth Building opened (visible in the distance at right) – and the mid-1920s when Duluth City Hall was built (it opened in 1928 – note that its future location is empty in this view). The archives staff gave it an estimated date of 1918.

A couple of now-vanished buildings are recognizable in the distance:

  • The tall Christie Building about a quarter of the way in from the right – it was demolished in 1980 to make way for the present-day Government Services Center; read more here. In this view it bears the sign of Duluth Business University (see zoomed-in view below).
  • Jackson School, visible above the staircase just left of center – now home to a county parking ramp.

The photo is labeled “Tribune-Duluth” – so it likely was an image shot by a photographer at what is now the Duluth News Tribune.

Here’s what the scene looks like today – taken with my iPhone panoramic photo feature this evening. I’m guessing that saved a lot of time compared to the effort that went into creating a panoramic image in 1918:

photoHere are some zoomed-in views of the original photo:

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The only woman in the image

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A closer view of the Christie Building with its DBU sign.

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Early “photobomb”? – a couple unauthorized individuals managed to get in the photo in the background. One of them is leaning against what appears to be some kind of bulletin board.

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A few more people managed to sneak into the frame at the top of the stairs and behind the shrubs.

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A view of the Alworth Building in the distance, along with the Tribune credit.

What else do you spot in the photo? Share your observations by posting a comment.

Duluth mystery photo

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This photo in the News Tribune files has no caption information; click on the photo for a larger version.

We assume it’s from the mid- to late 1960s. And we can spot a U.S. Highway 61 road sign. Our best guess is that this shows Carlton Street in Duluth’s West End, looking toward the harbor. The ore docks would be to the right of the frame, and Clyde Iron (the present-day Duluth Heritage Sports Center) in the distance to the left of this view.

Can anyone confirm that? Or do you think this photo was taken somewhere else? What other details do you notice in the photo? Share your observations by posting a comment.

Here are two zoomed-in views of the photo above:

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Promoting New Duluth, 1890

From the archives of the Duluth News Tribune, this full-page ad from the Nov. 26, 1890 edition of the Duluth Daily Tribune (a forerunner of the DNT):

An account of the brief life of the village of New Duluth can be found in the 1921 book “Duluth and St. Louis County, Minnesota: Their Story and People,” edited by Walter Van Brunt. It contains a report from Charles Lovett, who was involved in the development of the community. New Duluth was incorporated in the fall of 1891 and was annexed into Duluth a little more than three years later, at the end of 1894.

39th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

The Edmund Fitzgerald on the St. Mary’s River near Sault Ste. Marie, May 1975. (Bob Campbell photo / News-Tribune files)

Monday – Nov. 10, 2014 – is the 39th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in a massive storm on Lake Superior. The freighter’s crew of 29 men, including several from the Northland, died when the ship sank in eastern Lake Superior off Whitefish Point on Nov. 10, 1975; it had been heading from Superior to Detroit with a load of taconite.

A little after 7 p.m. that day, the Fitzgerald was in radio contact with the nearby Arthur M. Anderson, and reported that they were “holding our own” in heavy seas. There was no further contact with the freighter; minutes later the ship had disappeared from radar screens.

I compiled a number of archive photos and other information about the Fitzgerald in 2010, on the 35th anniversary of the wreck. You can view that post here.

Among the items posted there is this well-done video for Gordon Lightfoot’s famous song about the wreck:

Split Rock Lighthouse northeast of Two Harbors will host its annual beacon lighting and memorial service for the victims of the Fitzgerald, and all Great Lakes wrecks, on Monday afternoon. They will toll a bell 29 times for each man who lost his life on the Fitzgerald, and then toll the bell a 30th time for all lost mariners. After that, the lighthouse’s beacon will be lit. It’s the only time each year when visitors can climb to the top of the tower while the beacon is lit and revolving.

The lighthouse will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Monday; the memorial service is at 4:30 p.m. Admission is $7 per person, free for Minnesota Historical Society members.

Here’s a News Tribune video of the Nov. 10, 2011, memorial ceremony at Split Rock:

Share your memories by posting a comment.

Haunted house in Duluth, 1902

In a town with as much history as Duluth, there are countless stories of ghosts and haunted houses. But most of those don’t make the newspaper.

One that did was the case of “mysterious rappings” at a home in the Lincoln Park/West End neighborhood, in December 1902. As you can read below, the News Tribune carried two stories about the strange events in a home described as “three doors east of Twenty-sixth Avenue West on Tenth Street”; no specific address was given. Is the house in question among those still standing along that block of 10th Street? It’s hard to say – but if you have anything to add to the story, please post a comment. And if you’d like to share your own Northland ghost story, please feel free to share those, too.

Here are the two stories about the mysterious spirit of West 10th Street, as they appeared in the News Tribune back in 1902:

December 5, 1902

GHOSTS INHABIT WEST END HOUSE

Mysterious rappings give concern to many timid persons

Duluth has a genuine haunted house, located just east of Twenty-sixth Avenue West on Tenth Street.

Besides the ghost, spirit or whatever it may be, there reside in the house Mrs. Lindberg and her three children.

The building was formerly owned by ex-Alderman Ambrose M. Cox, who was asphyxiated by gas last Saturday. At the time Mr. Cox owned the building a man named Joseph Wolf died of smallpox there.

To make the story more weird the appearance of the unearthly noises were heard shortly after Mr. Cox met with the fatal accident.

Startled by rappings

Monday the occupants were startled by rappings on the floor. An investigation of the cellar did not reveal anything, and the noises continuing through the night, the case was reported to the police. Two policemen called during the day. Shortly after their entrance, the noises began and continued at intervals. Neighbors of the family heard of the trouble and called, and one man has been wearing his pompadour ever since.

The spirit does not object to being interviewed, and will answer any question put to it.

Tuesday night a brother of Mrs. Lindberg remained at the house during the night. He commanded the spirit to answer by two raps for no and three for yes. Directly following the questions, given in an ordinary voice, the answers were given. When asked if it would like some music three solemn raps was the reply. Accompanying music on the mouth-organ, the clog of an expert jig dancer could be plainly heard on the floor. After a song by the same man, an encore by the unseen visitor followed. The rapping was either loud or soft according to the wishes of the audience, and any number of raps asked for was given. They emanate from different parts of the floor, according to the disposition of the rapper.

The spirit evidently sleeps between the hours of 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. for it refuses to be aroused during that time. It is also partial to small audiences and will not give a performance before a crowded house.

Many visit the house

Inquisitive persons from all parts of town have visited the place, most of them unbelievers in spiritualism, but all report themselves fully convinced.

When asked if it would like to talk with a certain woman an affirmative reply was given. The woman lives on a farm out of town, and the two oldest girls of the family were sent for her Thursday. She refused, however, to converse with the unearthly person, and says she will leave town. While the girls were in search of the friend of the spirit, no noises were heard, but as soon as they re-entered the house, an inquiring rap was immediately heard on the floor.

The occupants say they cannot put up with the disturbance much longer and the house will soon be for rent to some unsuperstitious person.

A dog was put in the cellar to keep the spirit company, but he was more particular about the company he kept, and was last seen going down Tenth Street as fast as his legs could carry him.

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Here’s a short follow-up that ran in the paper two days later, on Dec. 7, 1902:

SPIRIT STILL KEEPS KNOCKING

Spiritualist tries to drive spook out but it refuses to quit house

Ghosts continue to hold daily carousals at the west end.

Those haunting the house three doors east of Twenty-sixth Avenue West on Tenth Street played before a crowded house last night.

A spiritualist called yesterday to commune with the spook and induce it to get out, but a deaf ear was turned to her request. To the question, “Are you to remain here?” it replied solemnly in the negative.

Different persons around the city have laughed at the stories of those who visited the house, and expressed a desire to investigate the nocturnal mystery. One who was particularly brave – before getting into the vicinity of the ghost – said he would show them how they were all being fooled.

He accompanied his friends to the house, and heard the gentle tap, tap, tap on the cellar floor. He then asked questions and was immediately answered by the invisible oracle. He tried Scandinavian, and was perfectly understood by the ghost. “Strike louder,” he exclaimed in a whisper. The dirt was shaken out of the cracks at his feet. His hat rose on his head, a break was made for the door and he fled.

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That’s where the story seems to end in the News Tribune. If you know more about this haunted house, or any others in Duluth or the Northland, please post a comment.