Draining Zenith City
Duluth, MN

Buckingham Creek

Buckingham Creek and the Fifth Ward Improvement Club, from March 3rd, 1912 in the Duluth News Tribune.
Buckingham Creek and the Fifth Ward Improvement Club, from March 3rd, 1912 in the Duluth News Tribune.

Buckingham Creek

Buckingham Creek flowed under a series of bridges before a new path for it was blasted through the base of the Point of Rocks in 1888. The dynamite blasts came just three years after the men of the Duluth silver mine walked away from their dreams a few hundred feet down the rock face.

Although the tunnel facilitated rail development, the creek was becoming unsanitary even where it ran atop the hill, past Emerson Elementary School, where it was used as an open sewer by the poor immigrants who built shanties nearby.

The foul smells and accumulating garbage caught the attention of the Fifth Ward Improvement Club in 1912, which pressured the city to enclose most of Buckingham between Fourth Avenue West and the granite tunnel.

The creek follows the same path today as it did in 1912, and the rock tunnel is visible below the M&H gas station on the west side of Interstate 35.

Freezing groundwater in the drain has created this ice wall in Buckingham Creek Drain, which is nearly all blasted natural stone. Lit with several LED panels. It was a cold night.
Freezing groundwater in the drain has created this ice wall in Buckingham Creek Drain, which is nearly all blasted natural stone. Lit with several LED panels. It was a cold night.

References »

  • The Budgeteer 25 Sept. 1974. Web.
  • Engineering-contracting 39 (1913): 47. Web.
  • In The Tunnels. WDIO, 2013. Film.
  • Various. (1904-1974). Duluth News Tribune.
  • Various. (1880-1888). Duluth Daily News.