The History Of Duluth’s Lookout Point, Enger Tower
If you've been to the Duluth area or you call it home, you have likely been to Enger Tower. Also known as Duluth's lookout tower, it is flooded with people no matter the time of year.
There are many urban legends about the tower, with some thinking it is haunted. Legend has it there is a man who haunts the tower and that if you visit the spot at night, you can even see him peering out one of the small windows. (This is just a legend, though.)
It is also known as one of the most romantic places in Duluth, thanks to its picturesque surroundings. It also lights up often in different colors to reflect what is happening in the Northland or the world. For example, during football season, you may even see it glow purple!
All of this aside, Enger Tower is famous in its own right. Whether you are someone who has lived here all your life or a tourist coming to visit the Northland for the weekend, visiting is always an amazing experience.
So, how did Enger Tower become the tourist attraction and Duluth staple that it is today? Let's take a look at the history of the lookout tower and what purpose it serves today.
Why Was Enger Tower Built? The History Of Enger Tower and Enger Park
It all started with a plot of land, which is now known as Enger Park. The land was purchased with the intention of developing a park and nearby golf course with a monetary donation from a local named Bert Enger.
The land for Enger Park was officially purchased in 1921. The park continued to develop over the next two decades. In fact, Enger left more money for the park's development in his will one decade after his initial donation.
About two decades after the first donation and eight years after Enger's death, the tower was built in his memory. Enger Tower serves as a thank you to the namesake, which was officially erected in the park in 1939.
Who Is Bert Enger, The Namesake Behind Enger Tower?
Hagbert "Bert" J. Enger made his fortune through perseverance. Enger was born on March 24th, 1864 in Norway. He moved to the United States with his grandparents in 1877 when he was just thirteen. He worked across the midwest, making a living on farms, wheat fields and iron mines.
Later in life, he moved to Pine City and bought stock in a general store. The store was not a success and eventually, he and the other owner split it down the middle. Enger received the hardware and furniture from the business.
In 1903, Enger hired Emil Olson and headed to Duluth to start his furniture business, inspired by his half of the failed general store. The two decided to make the move from Pine City so they could be in a bigger market and thus, a successful business was born.
The two opened Enger & Olson in Duluth the same year with only $500 bucks in inventory. The shop was located in the West End at 1722 West Superior Street. The business was a huge success and quickly outgrew its small location. The business moved locations around Duluth several times to keep up with growing demand. (One of their former locations is now Bent Paddle Brewing Company and the building still bears the name of the furniture store if you look closely!)
Sadly, Enger passed away on April 5th of 1931 of a stroke while vacationing in Hawaii. He spent a lot of time with his aunt, uncle and niece and lived with them until his death. Prior to his passing, he became the fifth member of the Duluth Hall Of Fame. There are rumors that his remains are inside the tower built in his honor but this has never been confirmed.
Enger Tower's Royal Ties
Believe it or not, Enger Tower actually has royal ties! It was inaugurated by the (at the time) future King and Queen of Norway upon its completion in the late 1930s. The ceremony happened on June 15 of 1939 by Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Märtha of Norway. Prince Olav went on to become King Olav of Norway years later and reigned until his passing in 1991.
Fast forward to October of 2011 and royalty came to inaugurate the tower yet again. This time, the tower was re-inaugurated by the son of the royal couple who previously did so. King Harald V of Norway and Queen Sonja paid a visit to the spot on October 17th of 2011.
How Tall Is Enger Tower? How High is it Above Lake Superior?
There is a reason Enger Tower is known as Duluth's lookout point! Enger Tower is eighty feet high with 360-degree views from the top. Visitors can climb all the way to the top and see Duluth, Superior and everywhere in between.
Enger Tower is five stories and shaped as an octagon with windows on all sides. While the tower itself isn't super high, it is situated on top of a hill, which makes for epic views from the top! Enger Tower is about 531 feet above the surface of Lake Superior, which you can also see from the top.
How Has Enger Tower Changed Over The Years?
Since Enger Tower's completion in 1939, the attraction has undergone a facelift. The original tower was a little different, with balconies on the second floor for visitors. For safety reasons, these balconies were eventually taken down and the entrances to the balconies were blocked with metal bars.
Another big renovation took place in 2011 to the tune of about $400,000. This renovation included patching of the concrete and work on the roof and electrical. The renovation also included replacing missing bluestone, which the tower is made out of.
What Can I Do At Enger Park Today?
Today, Enger Park is a bustling tourist location thanks to Enger Tower. Located at 1601 Enger Tower Road, Enger Park is only open for part of the year, closing in the fall when it starts to snow. The park reopens on May first of every year, sometimes earlier if the weather is nice.
Aside from going to the top of the tower, there are other things to do at Enger Park. The park also serves as a wedding venue. There is also a picnic area, picnic tables and BBQ grills for use. Climbing, bouldering, hiking and birding are also popular activities at the park.
Enger Park is also home to the American-Japanese Peace Bell. The bell was a gift from Ohara-Isumi, Duluth's sister city in Japan. It is located in the park in the Peace Bell Pavilion. The bell is a replica of one located in the Japanese city and was officially dedicated to Duluth in 1991.