Bear in a boat in Duluth, 1944

This post has been updated to include new information…

Over the years, many people have sent photos to the News Tribune for one reason or another. Sometimes the paper has asked for reader submissions; other times people have sent pictures unsolicited, for the DNT to keep, viewing the paper as a kind of repository for local history.

Many of those photos – sent years, if not decades ago – are hanging around in the Attic without much information to explain the stories behind the images. Here’s a series of five unusual reader-submitted photos showing a bear sitting in a boat in the Minnesota Slip, now home to the William A. Irvin ore boat. The only caption information with them was: “Taken by Einar Amundson. Bear jumped into boat in the canal.”

After putting out a call for more information on Sunday night, Duluth author and historian Tony Dierckins provided the answer:

The tragic story of this bear is retold in the book, “Crossing the Canal: An Illustrated History of Duluth’s Aerial Bridge”:

“An incident in 1944 was far less tragic, but nonetheless unfortunate. A black bear found its way to the slips behind Marshall-Wells, jumped in the bay, and swam into the canal. Three Park Point residents—E. A. Thorleson, age twenty-four; Michael Gauthier, eighteen; and Donald Parker, fourteen—set out in a small boat to rescue the bear and return it to the wild. The bear didn’t appreciate their efforts. Thorleson tried to lasso the bear, but missed; the bear used the rope to claw onto the boat, where it bit its would-be rescuer and tore his pants. Thorleson and his companions abandoned ship. The Coast Guard then towed the boat to the docks, where they successfully lassoed the bear and attempted to pull it onto the pier. But the bruin wouldn’t budge, and officials, deciding it was too dangerous to help, shot it to prevent further trouble.”

This is an excerpt from a longer piece called “Casualties of the Canal.” You can read the whole piece on Zenith City Online.

So, unfortunately, not a happy ending to the story behind these quirky photos. Thanks to everyone who posted a comment so far. If you have anything more to add about this bear – or if you have other tales of odd animal encounters in the Twin Ports – please post a comment.

Aerial views of Duluth

Old aerial photos always offer a lot of interesting opportunities to see what has changed and what has stayed the same. Here are a few aerial photos of Duluth from the early 2000s, from the News Tribune archives. Click on the images for a larger view:

This photo from October 2003 shows the area just east of downtown Duluth, prior to major expansion by what is now Essentia Health, and also before construction of the Sheraton Hotel. (Derek Neas / News Tribune)

The reconstruction of Piedmont Avenue is under way in this view from June 2004. (Derek Neas / News Tribune)

An aerial view over downtown Duluth and the Central Hillside in June 2002. (Derek Neas / News Tribune)

A view of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center in August 2003, before the addition of the Duluth 10 movie theater, Amsoil Arena and an additional parking structure. (Justin Hayworth / News Tribune)

Share your memories by posting a comment.

Odds and ends old photos of Duluth

Here are some random old photos of Duluth from the News Tribune files that I just don’t have enough information about to build an entire post for each. So I’ll assemble them here (click on the photos for a larger view)…

Gowan-Peyton-Twohy Co. and other businesses and warehouses at the foot of Fifth Avenue West in Duluth, circa 1900, near where the Great Lakes Aquarium stands today. There are quite a few posters hanging on those low buildings to the left. Using a magnifying glass, I was able to (I think) read only one of them…

In the middle of this zoomed-in view is a poster showing a large horseshoe and (again, I think) the brand name Nev-R-Slip Shoes.


This postcard view of the Duluth Ship Canal, circa 1902, predates construction of the Aerial Ferry Bridge.


This photo is a copy of a copy (of a copy?) and is labeled “1873 – above Fourth Street.” It’s looking east toward Lake Superior. Here’s a slightly more-zoomed-in view:

Have any information about what you see in these photos? Share your memories and stories by posting a comment.

Archive aerial views of Duluth

It’s fun to look at aerial photos in the News Tribune Attic – when you look up close, they can show so many things that have changed or still are the same.

Here are three aerial photos of Duluth from the archives; as with most photos I post here, click on these images to access a larger view:

The Duluth Entertainment Convention Center and surrounding area, August 2003. This is before the addition of the Duluth 10 movie theater, the new parking ramp and Amsoil Arena. (Justin Hayworth / News Tribune)


St. Mary’s Medical Center and the surrounding area in October 2003, before construction of SMDC’s First Street Building. (Derek Neas / News Tribune)


The Technology Village / Soft Center building under construction along Superior Street in downtown Duluth, May 1999. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)——Share your memories and observations by posting a comment.

Mighty Thomas Carnival memories

For close to 40 years, the Mighty Thomas Carnival has been a summer tradition in Duluth. It’s back again this week, at Bayfront Festival Park (in years past it was held in the DECC parking lot, but that site got a lot smaller with the construction of Amsoil Arena).

Duluth School Police Patrol members Steve Eklund, 12, and Bryan Hill, 11, react during a roller coaster ride at the Mighty Thomas Carnival in Duluth on June 10, 1986. They are crossing guards at Chester Park School. (John Rott / News-Tribune)


Nicole Giddings of Duluth flies high on a ride at the Mighty Thomas Carnival on June 10, 1988. (Steve Stearns / News-Tribune)


Reactions are varied on the faces of (left to right, front row) Jeff Lien, Chris Reilly and Mike Johnson, and (back row) Jane Page and Chris Chambers as they ride the Super Hurricane ride at the Mighty Thomas Carnival in Duluth on June 7, 1986. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)


Francie Linn, 7, Sarah Toffoli, 4, and Amie Austin, 10, all of Duluth, clutch the bar in the front seat of a roller coaster at the Might Thomas Carnival in Duluth on June 17, 1982. (Bob King / News-Tribune)


Worker Carlo Magliano of Duluth looks as if he’s about to be ingested by the “Moonwalk” at the Mighty Thomas Carnival in Duluth on June 16, 1983. (Joey McLeister / News-Tribune)


Carnival-goers line up to buy ride tickets at the Mighty Thomas Carnival in Duluth on June 19, 1981. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)


Sea Dragon riders (left to right, front row) Shayne Renaud, Jackie Duvall and Dawn Duvall and (back row) Jodie Blegen, Tracey Myers and Kelly Archambeault enjoy the ride at the Mighty Thomas Carnival in Duluth on June 9, 1989. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)


A carnival worker named “Gliff” signals kids to board the Super Himalaya ride at the Mighty Thomas Carnival in Duluth on June 10, 1986.  (John Rott / News-Tribune)


Seven of the 400 members of the Duluth School Police Patrol show varying emotions while riding the Sea Dragon at the Mighty Thomas Carnival in Duluth on June 9, 1986. (John Rott / News-Tribune)


For more on the carnival, including its history and a look at all the other places it’s traveling this year, visit its website.

Share your memories of the Mighty Thomas Carnival by posting a comment.

Omnimax Theatre opens, 1996

April 18, 1996

Omnimax Director Dennis Medjo stands in the new theater at the DECC on April 17, 1996. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)



By Dominic P. Papatola, News-Tribune staff writer

After 13 months and about $9 million, the Duluth Omnimax Theatre lifts off tonight with an appearance by astronaut George “Pinky” Nelson and “The Dream is Alive,” a cinematic ode to America’s space shuttle program.

The theater — the 24th of its kind in the country — is the latest addition to the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, one that DECC operators hope will draw around a quarter-million visitors a year.

If the Omnimax meets those projections, the theater will become one of Duluth’s best-attended attractions, surpassing Glensheen, the Depot and the Lake Superior Zoo in terms of popularity.

DECC officials have hosted a few advance screenings of “The Dream is Alive” including a Tuesday night shindig for employees of the convention center and their families. These dress rehearsals indicate that the Omnimax is a functional and comfortable addition to Duluth’s stable of venues.

The lobby — with blue carpeting, bright-white walls, ash woodwork and oreboat red railings and exposed duct work — strikes the semi-formal chord of an upscale “legitimate” theater or a spartan academic auditorium. Yet, there are plenty of movie-house and tourist-friendly touches.

The exterior of the Duluth Omnimax Theatre, as seen in March 1997. (Kathy Strauss / News-Tribune)

For the run of “The Dream is Alive,” for instance, the gift shop stocks a variety of “Mommy-can-I-have” items such as inflatable space shuttles, NASA totebags and freeze-dried “action snacks.”
Back in the lobby, there’s a well-appointed snack bar, offering standard movie-theater fare at the standard — which is to say, grossly inflated — movie-theater prices: $2.99 for nachos, $1.69 for a small soda.

Since you’ll pay a premium for these snacks, Omnimax officials decided to let patrons bring those goodies into the theater itself — and even equipped the seat-arms with cup holders.

If you’ve never walked into one of these dome-style venues, you may experience a touch of vertigo. You enter at the bottom of the theater; soft lighting and synthesizer-heavy background music increase the feeling that you’ve entered another world.

The purple-and-blue seats are set in a permanent diagonal Barcalounger position, focusing your gaze upward at the white, dome-shaped screen that stretches 72 feet in diameter. This angle, ideal for viewing the IMAX movies, makes it difficult to use the theater for other sorts of meetings or presentations, as DECC officials have said they’d consider doing.

People prepare to leave the Omnimax Theatre in Duluth after a showing of “Walking on the Moon” on Dec. 8, 2006. The six people pictured were the audience for the 6 p.m. show. (Clint Austin / News Tribune)

The seats are 20 or 21 inches wide, depending on where you’re sitting, but those handy cup holders make them feel a bit narrow.

For best viewing, try for the seats higher up and toward the middle of the rows.

The “rake” — or angle of the rows — is very steep, so you’ll want to be careful when, say, crossing or uncrossing your legs so that you don’t give the person in front of you a kick in the head.

No matter where you sit, though, the movie completely fills your field of vision. Combined with a 10,000-watt speaker system that seems to rumble at you from all directions, your stomach may be convinced that you’re in motion, even though your head knows you’re sitting still.

“The Dream is Alive,” a valentine to NASA’s space shuttle program made before the 1986 explosion of the Challenger, was filmed in part by astronauts on the shuttle Discovery. The film, an oldie by IMAX standards, is scheduled to run about 10 weeks. It will be replaced by “Special Effects,” a first-run feature that will premiere in Duluth and at a half-dozen other IMAX theaters.


The Duluth Omnimax Theatre was joined at the DECC by the Duluth 10 – a “normal” movie theater next door – in December 2004. After years of low attendance, the Duluth Omnimax closed in March of this year; the future of the theatre building remains undecided; the DECC board is weighing options.

Here are a few more photos from when the Omnimax Theatre was built:

An explosive charge broke ground at the future site of the Omnimax Theatre, in what was then a DECC parking lot, on March 16, 1995. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)


Construction of the Omnimax Theatre is on schedule in this view from Aug. 30, 1995.  Ironworkers placed an evergreen tree on top of the building when the highest beam was put in place. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)


DECC Executive Director Dan Russell explains the features of the Omnimax Theatre being constructed next to the DECC on Aug. 29, 1995. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)


Share your memories by posting a comment. And if you haven’t done so already, become a fan of the News Tribune Attic on Facebook.

Duluth Arena photos, Part 3

Here’s the third and final installment of Duluth / DECC Arena photos from the News Tribune archives. This one covers the years from about 1975 to the present. Click on the photos for a larger view and for caption information:

Today’s News Tribune print edition includes a 16-page special section all about the new Amsoil Arena, which debuts tonight with a UMD men’s hockey game.

The section also includes a timeline of DECC Arena history, but we couldn’t fit the entire timeline in the allotted space. So, here is the extended version…

Duluth Arena timeline


Efforts begin in earnest to build an arena-auditorium complex in Duluth. The city was lacking in venues for large concerts and sports events, especially after the collapse of the Amphitheater in 1939; among the few facilities were the Armory, the Duluth Curling Club and the Denfeld auditorium.

Among the early proponents was businessman Jeno Paulucci, who at the time headed the Northeast Minnesota Organization for Economic Education. In September 1961, that group launched a campaign to build a convention, cultural, entertainment and sports center in Duluth.

In December 1961, Duluth Mayor E. Clifford Mork kicked off a drive to build the complex and appointed an arena-auditorium advisory committee.

January 1963

The $6.1 million project receives a $3 million federal grant. In February 1963, Duluth voters approved a $3.1 million bond issue to build and a tax levy to operate the complex.

The harborfront location was selected by the committee over other candidates, including Leif Erikson Park; the area between the Depot and the Civic Center; and land west of the College of St. Scholastica. To prepare the site, previously home to a scrapyard, sand was dredged from the harbor and used to fill and level the land.

December 19, 1963

On a frigid day, ground is broken for the Duluth Arena-Auditorium. Work continues for 2 ½ years.

August 1966

The Arena-Auditorium opens with a celebration more than a week long in conjunction with Portorama festivities. The theme of the opening is “Hello World.”

On Friday night, Aug. 5, there is a ribbon-cutting ceremony and gala celebration in the Arena, with guests including comedian Buddy Hackett, Lorne Greene, star of TV’s “Bonanza,” and Vice President Hubert Humphrey. “All of know too well that the news has not always been good in Duluth and the Head of the Lakes region,” Humphrey told the crowd. “But there is a new day — of good news and hope and confidence. And it is well worth some celebration.”

The opening celebration also includes a performance by Metropolitan Opera baritone Robert Merrill to open the Auditorium; a packed Arena concert by the Beach Boys and fireworks displays.

“Not for many decades, perhaps never in Duluth’s history, has there been such genuine widespread enthusiasm over a civic achievement shared by so many people,” the News Tribune said in an editorial. “There are hardly enough superlatives to describe the mood one can sense all over town. … The Arena-Auditorium not only extends a ‘Hello World’ greeting, but it signifies even more poignantly that this region has done something daring and magnificent to make itself a part of the broader world that pulsates around us.”

Late August 1966

The Ice Capades hold their first show at the Arena, starting a years-long tradition of rehearsing in Duluth for several weeks and opening their tours at the Arena.

Nov. 19, 1966

First UMD men’s hockey game at the Arena, an 8-1 win over Minnesota in front of a capacity crowd. Keith “Huffer” Christiansen has six assists in the game, still a UMD record.

December 1966

The Harlem Globetrotters play at the Arena for the first time. The removable Arena basketball court hosts many games over the years until being sold to St. James School in West Duluth for use in their gym.

Sept. 15, 1967

Jack Benny headlines the Arena’s first anniversary party, joined by singers Bobby Vinton and Mary Lou Collins, former “Tonight Show” bandleader Skitch Henderson and the Rudenko Brothers, a juggling act.

Benny, then very much an A-list Hollywood star, said organizers told him performing in Duluth could open doors. “(They) said I probably could get two days in Hibbing, and a full week in Twig,” he quipped, joining a long line of comedians to poke fun at that Northland locale. “All my life, there have been three cities in the world I wanted to see — London, Paris and Twig.”

Late 1960s

The Arena hosts the NCAA men’s hockey finals, an appearance by Bob Hope and the Republican state convention in 1968, and its first appearance by Lawrence Welk in 1969; Welk would return several more times over the next decade, always drawing a good crowd.

Early 1970s

Notable concerts at the Arena include Johnny Cash, Three Dog Night, Sonny & Cher and Deep Purple.

Oct. 16, 1976

Thousands flock to the Arena to see Elvis Presley perform in Duluth for the first time.

The News Tribune’s Jim Heffernan provided this account: “Women screamed, flashbulbs — thousands of them — popped, fans tried to climb on stage and were repelled by police, and Elvis sang. The more he sang, the more they loved him. They loved him most when he began passing perspiration-soaked silk scarves from around his neck to the few adoring fans who made it to the edge of the stage. He performed for exactly one hour, then he was gone. … As the audience filed from its seats, a voice on the public address system said ‘Elvis has left the Arena.’”

Elvis returned for a second, packed concert at the Arena on April 29, 1977. Less than four months later, he was dead.

Late 1970s

Other big concerts at the Arena include Kiss, the Doobie Brothers, Styx with Eddie Money and Cheap Trick.

Early 1980s

The Arena hosts the NCAA men’s hockey finals in 1981. Other notable events include the Loverboy concert (crowd of more than 8,000) and the Airstream convention, which brought thousands of the silver travel trailers to the DECC.

Feb. 17, 1984

The UMD men’s hockey team wins its first WCHA championship with a 4-2 win over Wisconsin at the Arena.

The next day’s News Tribune included this account from reporter Kevin Pates: “There was great tension as the final minutes ticked down, but that tension was then released. As the clock showed 0:00, UMD’s 20 players spilled onto the ice and mobbed goalie Rick Kosti near the goal and then toppled on to one another. An air raid-type siren blared and the song “Celebration” cascaded over the Arena sound system. … (Bulldog coach Mike) Sertich joined his team carrying a maroon-and-gold sign bearing the inscription No. 1. He was quickly hoisted on the shoulders of his players and given a victory skate around the rink.”

UMD advanced to the national title game that season, falling to Bowling Green 5-4 in four overtimes. The Bulldogs also reached the NCAA tournament in 1983 and 1985.

April 1984

The Arena hosts curlers and curling fans from around the world for the Silver Broom world curling championships. It’s the second time the event is held in Duluth; the first time was in 1976.

April 22, 1984

Heavy metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne plays an Arena show on Easter Sunday, to the consternation of some in the community. There are few protesters on the day of the concert. “Osbourne made his appearance to a crescendo of Wagnerian orchestral music,” the News Tribune’s Bob Ashenmacher reported. “Pyrotechnics ignited, a dark scrim dropped, and there he was in a cape. He was flanked by two statues of bats with lit eyes and five-foot wingspans, over which poured fog vapor.”

July 22, 1984

Huey Lewis and the News draw 8,176 concert-goers, one of the largest — if not the largest — concert crowds ever at the Arena. “The sound mix was excellent throughout the hall. The lights were splashy and punctual,” the News Tribune reported the next day. “(Lewis) is athletic on stage, grabbing his floor-stand microphone at full run and leaping, with splits, off platforms.”

Mid-1980s to mid-1990s

Big concerts at the Arena include shows by Bryan Adams, Loverboy, David Lee Roth, Poison, Motley Crue, Metallica and Def Leppard. The Minnesota North Stars, Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks play exhibition games at the Arena.

March 15, 1998

After trailing Minnesota 4-0 in the third period of a WCHA playoff game, the UMD men score four times to force overtime, then score in the extra session to win 5-4 and advance to the WCHA Final Five — one of the most memorable comebacks and games in Bulldog hockey history.

Oct. 22, 1998

Bob Dylan performs in Duluth, his birthplace, for the first time to a sellout crowd of nearly 8,000 in the Arena. “Backed by a four-man band, Dylan appeared restrained and even a little nervous at first, but he soon relaxed with inspired guitar gesturing and reflexive boot-scooting,” the News Tribune reported the next day. “It was an unusually animated Dylan. He bobbed, shook and smiled with the audience. In the end he took a deep bow to the crowd. … While Dylan said little to the crowd and nothing at all about returning to the Northland, nobody seemed to care.”

Early 2000s

The UMD women’s hockey team achieves success from the start, winning the first NCAA Division I title in 2001, repeating in 2002 and making it a three-peat at the Arena in 2003, with a double-overtime win over Harvard.

The News Tribune’s Christa Lawler reported on the epic 2003 final: “Perhaps the greatest game in the history of women’s college hockey came on the Bulldogs’ home ice at the DECC in front of 5,167 fans — the largest attendance in three years of the NCAA-sanctioned event. The game hung tied at 3-3 through one 20-minute overtime period. The ice was resurfaced and (Nora) Tallus fired the game-winner at 4:19 of the second overtime to bring an end to the longest game in the history of the women’s Frozen Four.”

In 2004, the UMD men make a run back to the Frozen Four.

July 13, 2004

President George W. Bush speaks at the Arena to a crowd of about 8,000 while campaigning for re-election. “Bush spoke on national and international issues and offered little local color, except during a slip-up when he referred to being welcome in Duluth, northern Wisconsin and the ‘Iron Ridge,’ instead of the Iron Range,” the News Tribune reported.

Bush also spoke to a capacity crown at the Arena on Nov. 1, 2000, just days before the election in which the then-governor of Texas defeated Vice President Al Gore.

Mid- to late 2000s

Some highlights of more recent years include concerts by Nickelback and Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper (who also played the Arena back in 1975); the UMD women’s hockey team’s continued success, including a national title won in Duluth in 2008; several strong seasons by the UMD men’s hockey team; and the 2010 DFL state convention.

December 2010

The UMD men’s and women’s hockey teams close out their time in the DECC Arena; banners are lowered and all-DECC teams are recognized, among other special events.

Other events held at the Arena over the years include high school graduations, circus performances, wrestling matches, rodeos and countless other spectacles. And with the DECC Arena set to continue as a performance venue, the opening of Amsoil Arena is not so much the end of the line, but the turning of a new chapter in the venerable venue’s story.


Share your Arena stories and memories by posting a comment.

Duluth Arena photos, Part 2

Here is the second of three galleries of Duluth Arena photos from the News Tribune archives. This batch goes from late 1966 through 1975. Click on each image for a larger version and to read the caption information:

The final gallery of photos will be posted Thursday, along with an extended version of a Duluth Arena timeline that appears in the DNT’s special section about the new Amsoil Arena. That 16-page special section will be included with Thursday’s paper.

1 stage, 2 rock legends

This week the Attic recalls the 10-year anniversaries of two significant Northland events. Today, a look back at the July 3, 1999, concert at Bayfront Festival Park pairing Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. Some of us in the Attic even remember being part of the audience or listening from outside the gates. If you attended, share your thoughts on this most memorable concert. The Attic dug up the News Tribune’s review of the Saturday evening show. But first, a photo of the two on stage.




The News Tribune’s review of the concert led Page 1 the next day. Here it is.

Rock legends wow Duluth

Singers-songwriters Dylan, Simon generate fireworks of their own

Published: Sunday, July 4, 1999
By Craig Lincoln and Chris Casey/News-Tribune staff writers

Note to the city of Duluth:

Please book Bob Dylan and Paul Simon for every Fourthfest weekend.

Any mere fireworks display will pale in comparison to the eruption that occurred when native son Dylan, dressed in a black jacket with white trim and black pants, joined Simon on stage Saturday night at Bayfront Festival Park.

The rock legends, following Simon’s opening 90-minute set, began a three-song duet at 9 p.m.

Dylan and Simon combined on Simon’s classic hit, “The Sounds of Silence’; Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line’; and Dylan’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.’

Simon closed out the duet portion saying, “Thanks for having me in Bob’s hometown. It feels great to be here.’

The crowd’s enthusiasm was classic Northland: no mere muddy field or rain will keep us from our appointed fun.

When Simon took the stage, the cheers grew from the front, where the early birds stood right in front of the stage, to the back, where the late-comers set up lawn chairs on a small rise of land near the park’s permanent band tent. About 10 acres of people filled the festival grounds.

A lot of people were there — well, about 10 acres worth of people. Dan Russell, executive director of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, estimated that 20,000 tickets had been sold.

Simon wasted no time getting the crowd into his popular and long song list. He opened with “Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and had everybody from young women in tie dyed T-shirts to aging baby boomers in cotton sweaters swaying to the music.

Backed by an 11-piece band playing its trademark World Beat Style, Simon cranked out a feel-good set of hits that spanned the decades.

He quickly jumped into more recent material, including “Can’t Run But,’ and “The Boy in the Bubble.’

His 17-song performance kept the crowd jumping with a band that included three drummers, a tight horn section, a cellist and an accordionist.

If this is Dylan’s Duluth, this must be the day for a big concert at Bayfront Festival Park, because the weather was perfect.

By our standards, that is.

The excitement over native son Dylan wasn’t dampened by the rainy weather. In fact, it seemed the locals took it all in stride.

As they well should, because if someone with roots in the Northland were blindfolded and dropped into the middle of the concert grounds, it would be abundantly clear this was a summer Duluth concert.

The fog dipped lower and lower and made the tops of the grain elevators on Rice’s Point a fuzzy gray. Ore boats glided by and sails from sailboats floated through the air above the crowd.

The 704-foot ore boat H. Lee White glided by the concert grounds before it ever began. The ship provided a backdrop to the dozen sailboats, fishing boats and yachts that clustered close to shore. The number eventually grew to a couple of dozen boats, including one red canoe rafted up with a sea kayak.

People streamed into the concert grounds constantly, lining up hours before the gates opened and eventually forming a line stretching so far one concert-goer guessed it was a mile long.

With that many people streaming into the park, slightly wet places turned into muddy puddles. Some high-stepped gingerly across the mud, others simply plowed through, slip-sliding away through the festival grounds.

Eventually, the beer tents were full. But there was evidence this was more than a young party crowd: The lines to the pop and popcorn stands stretched more than 50 yards long.

“The crowd-watching is very interesting,’ said Ann Ness of Minneapolis. “I’m up here with my mother-in-law and she’s enjoying it.’

Some late-comers simply decided not to fight the mud.

Mike Miller, 39, of Rice Lake, Wis., stood in the middle of the park well away and behind the crowd. He discovered the acoustics were much better there.

“I tried getting up there,’ he said, looking ahead at the distant Simon tent. “It’s a muddy mess.’

The fans came for many reasons. Some were aging baby boomers, others young fans looking for good song writing.

“We thought it would probably be the last time they’d be here,’ said Joe Johnston, 46, of Amnicon. “We grew up with Paul Simon and Bob Dylan. They were our story tellers.’

Some were college age, a new generation of Dylan and Simon fans, barefoot and with pierced tongues.

“Bob Dylan is the best songwriter in the whole wide world,’ said Christina Newhouse, a Los Angeles-area resident who came here to visit some friends. “Not to mention he is the worst singer, but he can get away with it.’

To the Dylan fans, and not surprisingly, they came for his lyrics.

One came for the experience, although he preferred the Grateful Dead.

“I love his lyrics,’ said Loren Lemke, 37, of Minneapolis. “And the band just rocks when he plays.’

Two friends, originally Wisconsin residents but who now work in Cancun, Mexico, made the concert a spur-of-the-moment event in the middle of a business trip.

“I don’t think he can sing for beans, but he’s great with words,’ said Dick Ware, 50.

“I just like rock and roll music in general,’ said Jerry Thorson, 42.

Thom Burrell, 48, of Duluth, bought tickets as soon as he could. “Paul Simon is my all-time favorite songwriter. I’ve never seen him before, and I’m a concert-going nut,’ Burrell said. “I knew this was one I wouldn’t want to miss.’

Here is Simon mixing it up with the crowd shortly after taking the stage.

Here’s a story, from two days after the concert, focusing on fans’ reactions.

Pairing leaves fans satisfied


Published: Monday, July 5, 1999
By Chris Casey/News-Tribune staff writer

“I was born on the hill over there. Glad to see it’s still there,’ Dylan said about two-thirds of the way through his set. “My first girlfriend came from here. She was so conceited, I used to call her Me-me.’

With just a few words, Duluth native and world-renowned rock icon Bob Dylan brought “it all back home’ in indelible fashion Saturday night at Bayfront Festival Park.

After Dylan uttered the words that will go down in lore — as almost all of his rare chatting-with-the-crowd moments do, especially those coming in his native town — the crowd of 20,000 went wild.

“It’s great, it’s perfect,’ said Dan Moen, 36, of Duluth.

“He actually talked this time,’ said his wife, Karen. “He never said a word last time.’

She was referring to Dylan’s first-ever Duluth concert last October in the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center Arena. Though that sold-out show was well-received, some fans were disappointed that Dylan didn’t say anything about Duluth or Hibbing, where he grew up.

So, this time around, there weren’t many built-up expectations.

“I didn’t expect him to’ make a Duluth reference, Karen Moen, 37, said. “But I think he’s having more fun tonight.’

She added, “I think he’s more relaxed, or he’s having more fun, definitely. He was a lot more uptight the first show (in October).’

Asked if she had any theories as to why Dylan has played his native city twice in the past eight months, she said, “He’s had a near-death experience. He wants to come back.’

Dylan suffered from histoplasmosis, swelling of the sac around the heart caused by a fungal infection, in 1997.

Karen Moen said her mother graduated from Hibbing High School in 1959 — in the same class as then-Bob Zimmerman.

“She knew him, yeah. He once asked her out and she said no way,’ Karen Moen said. “He asked her to go roller skating.’

Holly Stroozas, 16, of Two Harbors also saw Dylan’s October show in Duluth. She said Dylan seemed “super happy’ that night.

“He seems like he’s having a lot of fun’ again, she said at Saturday’s concert, which also featured Paul Simon. “He’s smiling a lot. He seems to be glad to be back at home.’

Stroozas’ friend Lindsay Stewart, 16, of Two Harbors said she was just getting acquainted with Dylan’s music. “He’s good. I like his singing, for an old guy, anyway.’

The 58-year-old Dylan kept Judy Gadiel, 27, dancing throughout his energetic set.

“I think it’s awesome. I came all the way from Chicago to see this show,’ Gadiel said. “I think this place (Bayfront) is great. The sound is awesome and Bob Dylan is phenomenal.’

Gadiel was watching her third Dylan concert. “There’s nothing like seeing him outside and having his voice carry in the air. I like Paul Simon and I was happy to hear Paul Simon, but I came mostly for Bob Dylan.’

Ann Ness, who traveled from Minneapolis to see the show, said she enjoyed the Dylan-Simon combination.

“Having Paul Simon’s funky sound marry up with Bob Dylan is real nice, and they seem to be having fun,’ Ness said.

Her husband, Doug, said the “rusty’ quality of Dylan’s voice “is not very good, but the ideas and the heart is there.’ He said the pairing of “two of the premier songwriters of our time’ was too big to miss.

It will be a long time before the afterglow of Dylan’s performance — and comments — wears off.

He does, in fact, seem to care about his Northland roots. At least that’s the message Stroozas got from Dylan’s show.

“I’m glad he did’ mention his native city, she said. “Because now they (his Northland fans) know.’

Speaking of fans…

These two didn’t let the soupy ground at Bayfront hinder their enjoyment.


The concert packed the festival grounds a couple hours before the musicians took the stage.