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Column: St. Louis River area is poised for development

David Ross

The western half of our beloved city is beginning to receive the attention, affirmation and investment it so richly deserves. Those of us who reside on the west side of our Zenith City understand and appreciate the remarkable beauty available to us all along the scenic St. Louis River Corridor — Duluth’s other shoreline.

We are a river city as well as a lake city. In recent decades, Duluth has been abundantly successful at adroitly promoting Duluth as the city on the shores of the greatest of the Great Lakes. I have been quick to reference how we live on the shores of Gitche Gumee, by the shining big sea water.

Conversely, and regrettably, I have not equally promoted and uplifted our city’s 12 miles of jaw-dropping beauty along the St. Louis River. That was then. This is now. Count me in as a new disciple of this outdoor recreation destination and environmental education hub.

Mayor Ness is also a believer. He is committed to turning this scenic river area into an outdoor adventure and tourism destination. Right on, Mayor Ness. He insightfully points out that if not for Lake Superior, Duluth would be defined as a river city.

My friend, Tony Dierckins, serves as one of our community’s premier resident historians. Tony adeptly illustrates in his delightful book “Lost Duluth” that the City of Duluth was established first along the St. Louis River. Our great city gained a foothold and expanded from Fond Du Lac to the west to Belville in the east. These townships and others came together between 1888 and 1896 to form the City of Duluth. If not for the St. Louis River, Duluth may not have survived the many transformations from the days of fur trading to tourism.

Drawing attention to this rich heritage and to the prospect of turning Western Duluth into an outdoor adventure destination will require a concerted promotional effort. Just as the promotion of Canal Park has allowed it to become a premier tourism destination, the St. Louis River recreation area is poised to become our city’s next great visitor experience. If this vision is realized, it will bring millions of dollars into our economy along with enhanced amenities for visitors and residents.

How will the City of Duluth fund this needed promotional effort? Mayor Ness has a plan. If you would like to learn of this plan, the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce is making it easy to do so. We are partnering with the leadership of Visit Duluth to host a 90-minute meeting with Mayor Ness to discuss his vision for the St. Louis River corridor.

Our gathering will take place Tuesday, May 6, 8 a.m. at the Radisson Hotel Great Hall, located on the Superior Street Level of the hotel. Please register online at or by calling 218-722-5501. I hope you will take advantage of this timely opportunity to learn more about Duluth’s next extraordinary tourism destination.

David Ross is the president and CEO of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at 740-3751 or

David Ross

David Ross is the president and CEO of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at 740-3751.