Parks & Recreation

Lincoln Park History

Lincoln Park

From Zenith: A Postcard Perspective of Historic Duluth, copyright © 2005, Zenith City Press, Duluth, Minnesota

Just about every town in America has a Lincoln Park, and Duluth is no exception. The park was one of Duluth’s first four parks, along with Chester (Garfield), Cascade, and Portland Square. The park surrounds Miller Creek below Skyline Parkway down to West Third Street. Through development and land acquisition, the park has grown over the years, most significantly in 1926 when Lincoln Parkway—roughly six thousand feet of roadway alongside the creek—was constructed. Prior to that two stone-arch bridges and a wooden pavilion (seen in the left postcard on the opposite page) were constructed.

In 1934 the Public Works Administration added a stone pavilion on the park’s central grounds, an expansive groomed lawn surrounded by the pavilion to the south and, to the north, Elephant Rock, an outcropping so large it looks out of place. The pavilion was built for public gatherings and was recently renovated. Behind the pavilion, the creek cascades gently down Lincoln large, flat rocks (shown in the postcard at the top right of the opposite page); when the creek is low in late summer or fall, many local kids can be found hydroplaning down the creek. North of Elephant Rock, one and a half miles of trails line either side of Miller Creek and connect via several small footbridges, making it a popular spot for dog walkers. The creek itself is lined with rocks as it runs through the park and features several waterfalls and cauldrons large enough to serve as swimming holes.

Today Lincoln Park is the centerpiece of Duluth’s West End, a neighborhood that in recent years has adopted the name “Lincoln Park” to promote business. Many Duluthians, West End residents among them, have never warmed to the name change—just as many proud West Duluthians refuse to call their neighborhood “Spirit Valley.”

(Some historians have mistakenly written that Lincoln Park was originally called Garfield Park, but that’s not true; it was actually Chester Park that was first called Garfield Park. It does seem like an odd coincidence that two of Duluth’s first four parks were named for U.S. presidents who died from gunshot wounds inflicted while they were in office.)

The wooden pavilion shown above left is now gone, replaced by a stone structure built by the Public Works Administration in 1934.

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