Despite Rumors, This Iconic Duluth Landmark Is Not A Shipwreck
Many people, including me, grew up in the Duluth/Superior area and have always wondered what the structure was.
Could it be remnants of an old ship? That's the one I heard for many years growing up. There were even rumors it was an old pirate ship. I knew it was a concrete structure so any ship story was probably wrong. Being that Duluth is such an iron ore shipping area, I thought it might be an old loading dock, which is sort of true.It's actually an abandoned structure caused by aduluth land failured business decision by a Twin Ports businessman.
Atlas Obscura says it was built by Harvey Whitney as a way to unload sand for his sand business in Superior. Boats would have trouble going in and coming out of the busy canal so they would unload at the building. Duluth had wanted to build some kind of protection from the elements for boats coming to unload, and Harvey Whitney was hoping that would get done. Whitney sunk a lot of money into the buiding hoping to streamline his process, but Duluth never built the protection and with the waves and winds the boats had even more trouble unloading.
Unfortunately for Mr. Whitney, there wasn't much demand for the hopper which led to it being abandoned 3 years later in 1922. Then it just became what it is today, an abandoned building that tourists and locals swim and dive into. The building has sunk a little into the lake and the elements haven't been kind, but that ads to the infamous structure withe a haunted look.
If you are walking on the Lake Walk, there is a posted history on the building that shares the history you can read. It's often called the cribs and Uncle Harvey's Mausoleum. Zenith City has a great history of the building on their website too.
You can see inside the Building with these videos.