I've wondered about that ever since I found this blurb by Great Uncle Math in the Buckman News column of the July 25, 1913 Little Falls Herald:
I've been checking the DULUTH HARBOR CAMS lately cuz it's fun to see big ships glide into the canal and give a one-long-and-two-short blast on the horn that says "I'm HERE!", and the answering one-long-and-two-short from the bridge that says "Welcome!". Click the link, and open the Canal one. You'll see the view from the Marine Museum roof, looking east, out to the lake. Then, if you close that and open the Bridge cam, it's the opposite direction from the same roof, looking toward the harbor itself. Got that?
I wondered how long the cement sidewalks on the breakwaters of the shipping canal have been there--as in, where they already there in 1913? Yes! The official date is 1871, but the sidewalks were certainly there in July 1913, and so was an aerial bridge:
|The Duluth ship canal, sans bridge, in 1898.|
This was a suspended ferry of sorts. The platform could hold 120,000 pounds, including people, horses, wagons and street cars. The trip across took about a minute, and was efficient at leaving room for boats to enter. HERE'S A BETTER PHOTO. I really hope Frank and his mom took a ride, just for fun.
So, you say, what makes me think that there were any passenger ships during that time? Well, if you've clicked links above, you know some of the photos are from a website called Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s.
Another picture I found there was of the Lake Steamer North Land docked in Buffalo, NY, on it's way to Chicago and Duluth. Hooray!
BTW, the Duluth ship canal lift bridge as we know it was re-fitted in 1929-1930 so the deck rises out of the way of passing ships, and lowers again for vehicular traffic.