Invincible is a history of the Duluth Boat Club, which includes a period of time when the oarsmen of the Duluth Boat Club completely dominated North American rowing. There was one group of four men who were never defeated in twenty-two elite races, and were named the “Invincible Four.” The Duluth Boat Club also included a young man who became sculling champion of the world and an international celebrity. This was all at a time when amateur rowing was followed closely by the general public and reported in all major newspapers. The stories of these rowing races were carried on the front pages of the New York Times, the Philadelphia Enquirer, the Boston Globe, and the Times of London.
The Duluth Boat Club was much more than just a rowing organization. It was a social club providing a nearly unimaginable array of water recreation. By 1909 the Duluth Boat Club was referring to itself as the greatest water sports organization in the world, and it later grew even larger. A claim to be the greatest in the world is difficult to prove, but when one comprehends the many hundreds of members, the fabulous events, the everyday programs, vast assets, and incomparable athletic record of the Duluth Boat Club members, there is little reason to doubt the assertion. The glory of the Duluth Boat Club encompassed much more than athletics, and the word “Invincible” also describes a feeling that Duluthians once had about their community that they proudly proclaimed to be the “Zenith City of the Unsalted Seas”.
Today, the existence of such an eminent organization in a small Midwestern city like Duluth, Minnesota, seems very improbable. The historical context of Duluth around the turn of the century explains how this happened. The burgeoning economy and rapidly growing population of Duluth created the conditions for the founding of the club. The vision, leadership, and financial contributions of a dynamic and renowned individual brought the Duluth Boat Club to world prominence.
The greatness of the Duluth Boat Club only lasted for a period of a little more than two decades, before it went out of existence. Perhaps the club became so great it was bound to crash, like Icarus flying too close to the sun.
Michael’s book can be bought from the Water’s Edge Mercantile & Gift Shop at the hotel, from the St. Louis County Historical Society, or from an area bookstore at Fitger’s.