Coast Guard Station

Duluth Coast Guard Station #304 (originally #265)

The land for the Duluth Life-Saving Station was donated by the City of Duluth to the Life-Saving Service on June 19, 1866, for a consideration of $1.00. The plot was known as Franklyn Square and was on Minnesota Point. On July 29, 1890, the City of Duluth gave a warranty deed but this was not recorded until 1894.

The first mention of this station is in the Annual Report of the Life-Saving Service for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1894 under “Establishment of Stations”. It reads regarding stations built ‘Two others have been built, and are now receiving their equipment, one at Duluth, Minnesota, and one at Portsmouth, North Carolina.” The 1895 Annual Report states, “The new stations at Duluth, Minnesota and Portsmouth, NC, which were mentioned in the last annual report as receiving their equipments, have been manned and put in operation.” The station was listed in that report for the first time under the Tenth Life-Saving District.

Vessels had been stranded in the locality in 1885 and 1888 and two were recorded as stranded during the fiscal year 1895. One of these to whose aid the new Life-Saving Service crew came was the schooner SAM FLINT, of Port Huron, MI which became disabled one mile north by east of the new station. The vessel was skippered by a Captain Sevens and was 499 tons burden. It was proceeding from Duluth to Tonawanda, NY, with a cargo of copper ore valued at $10,000. The vessel itself was valued at $12,000. The vessel was salvaged by the Life-Saving Service crew and a tug. All nine persons on board were saved. The loss was estimated at $100.

During the fiscal year 1896, the station performed 11 rescues, most of them being persons in small boats, sailboats, or steam yachts. One large vessel assisted was the 38 ton steamer Pathfinder (Captain Brown) which collided, capsized, and sank 2/3 of a mile WNW of the station on September 1, 1895. One of the crew of five was lost and damage was $3,000 to a $7,000 vessel. Five days later on September 6, 1895, the steamer Samuel F. Hodge was a casualty in Duluth Harbor with a damage of $1,000 with a total value of $38,000. None of the crew of 20 was lost.

On July 2, 1896 the station assisted the 77 ton steamer L.L. Lyon (Captain Brickly), which was towed to safety. Seven other smaller boats were also assisted during the fiscal year 1897. During the fiscal year 1898 the station performed 18 rescues. Most of these were sailboats, sloops, or yachts but the 60 ton steamer record which was sunk in Duluth Harbor on June 2, 1898, was a catastrophe in which 3 lives were lost. During 1899 there were 13 rescues, one in connection with the 2476-ton steamer Northern King (Captain Connors) which got into difficulties on June 3, 1899, one mile SW of the station and was assisted, with no lives lost.

Fourteen vessels were assisted during the fiscal year 1900. The 309-ton steamer Alvin A. Turner (Captain Shean) was assisted on July 24, 1899. On May 29, 1900 the 1,848 ton steamer Fedora (Captain Fisk), valued at $100,000, called on the station for assistance while bound from Toledo, OH to West Superior, WI, with a $10,000 cargo of coal. No lives were lost. Between fiscal years 1901 and 1915 there were only 10 cases of assistance rendered by the Duluth Life-Saving Station.

It was the duty of Life-Saving Station crews in the earlier days to maintain a visual watch of the coast and be prepared to launch their boats to go to the assistance of any ship that seemed to be in trouble. Under the Coast Guard, it became the Duluth Lifeboat Station. With the advent of radio, the station was equipped with voice radio communication. Added later as also an electronic repair shop, a group office, a light attendant station, and a light station at Duluth.

The current station was opened in 1958. The station has a number of responsibilities such as Search and Rescue, Maritime Law Enforcement, Homeland Security, Ice Rescue, Recreational Boating Safety, Military Readiness, and Environmental Response. Their area of responsibility is from Two Harbors, Minnesota to Port Wing, Wisconsin. The 225 foot ice cutter Alder resides at this station and can be seen from all the Harborview rooms. It replaced the Sundew, a Balsam Class Ship that was 180 feet long and had been in service 60 years.

In 2012 the crewmembers at the Duluth Station Aids to Navigation Team (ANT) accepted the prestigious Sumner I. Kimball Readiness Award.

We salute our fine neighbors for all the hard work and sacrifice they do in protecting our waters and keeping us safe.

In the wintertime guests can watch the water rescue team practice in front of the hotel on the ice and in the water.