Here is a story produced for News Photography with a class theme surrounding Duluth’s infrastructure.
The Fond Du Lac neighborhood of Duluth, Minnesota was hit particularly hard by the flood of June 2012. An event that became known as the Flood of the Century. Situated at the westernmost end of Duluth and in the St. Louis River Estuary, Fond Du Lac is still recovering nearly four years later.
The northern entrance to Jay Cooke State Park via Minnesota State Highway 210 also starts within the neighborhood. The damage in Jay Cooke was extensive but has been repaired, the section of roadway on the eastern edge of the park being completely washed out. There was also extensive damage to the natural habitat surrounding the roadway. This section of highway is still closed, with a tentative re-opening of October 2016 according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s website.
At the foot of highway 210 lies Chamber’s Grove Park. Set on the St. Louis River, it is a popular fishing and family recreation area. The park is currently closed to undergo facility improvements. The Army Corps of Engineers, in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the MN Land Trust, completed work on the shoreline and section of river in November 2015. The work included restoring a natural shoreline and building rock walls in the river, for erosion control and to create spawning areas for fish. As part of the St. Louis River Area of Concern the project has been heralded as a great success by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The park is slated to re-open in the spring of 2017. In the upcoming year, renovation will be done on the parks facilities and infrastructure. Initial funding of one million dollars has been secured from the Minnesota DNR Parks and Trails Legacy Grant. In January a public meeting was held laying out areas of focus and two concepts plans. Included in the improvements will be new restroom facilities and playground equipment.
Mission Creek runs through the heart of Fond du Lac and underneath Minnesota Highway 23. The bridge over the creek, known as the Fond du Lac Culvert is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While the culvert does not currently need any structural improvements, the stonework does require attention. The section of Highway 23 is known as Veteran’s Memorial Parkway. The Minnesota Department of Transportation is currently underway with major improvements on Highway 23, but current and future plans do not indicate any work to be done to the area in Fond du Lac.
The area is rich with history, once the site of an Ojibwe settlement, and followed by an American Fur Trading Company outpost. The American Fur Trading Company, founded by John Jacob Astor thrived following the War of 1812, making Astor the United States first multi-millionaire. As the fur trade declined, the area turned to commercial fishing, and by the beginning of the 20th century the area had become the popular picnic and recreation area it is today. Keeping this history in mind with the planned improvements, the area stands to remain a popular destination for outdoor recreation and families for years to come.