Thursday, February 27, 2014

Uncle Harvey's Mausoleum

Uncle Harvey's Mausoleum - This structure located along the Duluth Lakewalk is a peculiar “Point of Interest” indeed. As one walks the boardwalk looking for photographic vantage points along the Lake Superior Shoreline, this landmark sticks out of the water, and is more of curiosity than anything. The concrete structure is the foundation of a sand and gravel unloading dock built in the winter of 1919 by Whitney Brothers of Superior Wisconsin. Sand from the Apostle Islands area and gravel from the north shore was loaded onto barges that were then towed to Duluth by the tug William A Whitney. A conveyor belt built on a trestle carried the materials to shore that was then dumped into a tunnel where another conveyor was used to load trucks that carried the material to its destination. Legend has it that the unloading tunnel became a hangout for gamblers and bootleggers as they attempted to avoid local law enforcement in the out of the way subterranean hideout.
While the substantial concrete structure has withstood more than 100 years of Lake Superior weather, the ability of the barges to tie up to the piers and remain stationary during unloading proved to be a very daunting task were waves often pushed the craft into the nearby rock causing damage and finally proved too hazardous for reliable and safe operation. In 1922 after only three years of operation the facility was abandoned. Obviously, it crushed to dreams and finances of Harvey Whitney, the entrepreneur and designer of the structure. Over the years, the nick name that originated from the Whitney family, "Uncle Harvey's Mausoleum”, stuck with the locals and has become a perfect place for nesting birds and flock of more daring folks who find the building a perfect launch platform for a cool summer dip into the big lake. Although most folks never venture into the cold water to swim out and see what the inside of the facility actually looks like, during the cold winter months it is an easy walk across the frozen water to satisfy the curiosity seekers.

note: this information is posted on a plaque along the Duluth Lakewalk which was placed by Visit Duluth.