Union Depot, Duluth


Upon hearing that I’m going to Minnesota, my excellent detectorist buddy Kenth Lärk sent me some scans of postcards from Duluth that his emigrant uncle sent home to Sweden in the early 1910s. I particularly like this image of the 1892 Union Depot, as the architecture is similar to that of the station houses along the Saltsjöbanan commuter railway that I’ve been riding for most of my life. It was built in the early 1890s, at a time when American architecture was en vogue in Sweden — but in the US, the style is known as “French château”. New Englanders will instantly feel at home in the oldest part of Saltsjöbaden.

The Union Depot still stands. It’s on the National Register of Historic Buildings and functions as a county heritage and arts center, also letting space for private events.


Photograph by Steve Johnson.


  1. #1 Thinker
    January 26, 2011

    In a community living and developing in close symbiosis with its railroad, everything about it takes on a symbolic nature. I suspect that holds true for Duluth; it certainly does for Saltsjöbaden.

    People from Saltsjöbaden will refer to any time before 1976 as “på gamla tågens tid” (“in the times of the old trains”), nostalgically implying that things were better then. That was the year blue metal subway carriages replaced the old wood-paneled ones. Although the velvet seats were full of dust and smelled of generations of smoke in the smoking sections, and the trains were probably getting unsafe and expensive to maintain, they certainly had charm…

  2. #2 Martin R
    January 26, 2011

    One of the original wood-sided carriage engines is preserved at the Neglinge depot and is available for rental trips.

  3. #3 Phillip IV
    January 26, 2011

    but in the US, the style is known as “French château”.

    Although I’m sure the French, on their part, would insist on calling it “Faux Château”. Well, polite Frenchmen would – other might use even less appreciative, but more colourful, descriptions.

  4. #4 Mattias
    January 29, 2011

    “Duluth” sounds distinctly Lovecraftian.

  5. #5 Martin R
    January 29, 2011

    Iä! Poughkeepsie!

  6. #6 rob
    February 4, 2011

    the depot in Duluth is a fun place for kids. there is a train museum in the basement that i used to love to go to when i was younger.

    Duluth is also a large inland port. the lift bridge is fun to watch go up and down to let ships pass.

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