Duluth, 7th Avenue West Incline – Solution of Quiz #25 (Part 1)

Part 1 / Première partie

Duluth, Minnesota (USA)

The 7th Avenue West Incline was built in 1891 to climb on the top of the Beacon Hill 500 feet above the Duluth harbour on the lake Superior.
In 1893, the Beacon Hill Pavilion was built just beside the top station of the incline. It was a big building devoted to concerts, picnics and special events. It was able to receive 5000 people at a time inside and outside in the park.
Le funiculaire de la 7th Avenue West a été construit en 1891afin de pouvoir grimper sur la colline Beacon Hill située à près de 100 mètres au dessus du port de Duluth sur le lac Supérieur.
En 1893, le bâtiment Beacon Hill Pavilionfut construit juste à côté de la gare supérieure du funiculaire. C’était une grand bâtiment fait pour des concerts, picnics et lieu évènementiel. Il pouvait accueillir 5000 personnes avec son parc.

(click on the picts to enlarge / cliquer sur les photos pour les agrandir)


1900 – People watching hot-air balloon event at Beacon Hill. The Beacon Hill Pavilion (right), with the top station of the incline (center) and one of the incline car (left). This was the end position of the cars at the top station. The car did not enter in the hangar.
1900 – La foule regarde la préparation d’une ascension en ballon. Le Beacon Hill Pavilion (à droite) la gare supérieure du funiculaire (au centre) et une des deux voitures (à gauche). C’était la position finale de la voiture à la station supérieure. La voiture ne rentrait pas à l’intérieur du hangar.


The incline was a funicular with two large counterbalanced cars large enough to carry horses and passengers running on two parallel tracks. The cars were opened on the front and back to let passengers ans horses in. It was powered by a steam engine located in a large hangar at the top of the track beside the Beacon Hill Pavilion.
C’était un funiculaire avec deux grandes voitures (plates formes) suffisamment grandes pour transporter des passagers et des chevaux. Il était propulsé par une machine à vapeur située dans le grand hangar de la gare supérieure à côté du Beacon Hill Pavilion.


1900 – The incline at Beacon Hill / Le funiculaire au sommet du Beacon Hill

The top station of the incline provided shelter to the steam engine (see the chimney) and was also a transfer station with the Highland Park tramway line which started just on the other side of the top station (left on the photo below).
La gare supérieure du funiculaire hébergeait la machine à vapeur (voir la cheminée) et servait aussi à la correspondance avec le tramway de la ligne de Highland Park qui commençait de l’autre côté de la gare du funiculaire (à gauche sur la photo ci-dessous).


1900 – Top station of the incline / Gare supérieure du funiculaire
Note the gap between the car and the station. We can see the cables in the gap!
Notez l’espace entre la voiture et la gare! On aperçoit même les câbles dans l’intervalle!


1900 – The Highland Park street car / Le tramway de la ligne Highland Park
The Beacon Hill Pavilion in the background. The top station of the incline can be seenon the right, behind the snow heap.
Le Beacon Hill Pavilion est en arrière plan de la photo ci-dessus. On aperçoit la gare supérieure du funiculaire derrière le gros tas de neige à droite.


1900 – Bottom station / La gare basse
The bottom station was located on the West Superior Street. The two cars can bee seen on the top of the track, in fact the middle of the line. Note the two wooden gates from where it was possible to access directly through the front of the cars.
La gare inférieure du funiculaire était située sur la West Superior Street. On aperçoit les deux voitures en haut de la voie… en fait à mi-distance. Notez aussi les deux portails en bois qui donnaient de front accès aux voitures.

May 28, 1901 – The fire / L’incendie

On May 28, 1901 there was a fire in the steam powerhouse of the top station of the incline!
The fire destroyed the top station… and spread to the Beacon Hill Pavilion which was destroyed too!
Le 28 mai 1901, il y eu un violent incendie dans la gare supérieure du funiculaire!
Le feu détruisit complètement la gare… mais il se propagea aussi au Beacon Hill Pavilion qui fut entièrement détruit aussi!

May 28, 1901 – Smoking ruins of the Beacon Hill Pavilion and top station / Ruines fumantes du Beacon Hill Pavilion et de la gare supérieure
This document is exceptional! It shows the still smoking ruins and the car still at the burnt top station…
In a few minutes… the cable, which still maintain the car, will break due to the heat which melt the cable!
The car hurtled down to the bottom of the slope… and pulverized the bottom station at West Superior street!
Ce document est exceptionnel! Il montre les ruines encore fumante du Beacon Hill Pavilion et de la gare supérieure du funiculaire mais aussi la voiture encore stationnée à la gare…
Dans quelques minutes… le câble, qui maintient la voiture,  va se rompre car il a fondu sous l’effet de la châleur! la voiture va dévaler la pente pour aller fracasser la gare inférieure!



May 28, 1901 – After the fire, the wreck of the incline / Après l’incendie, l’accident de la voiture à la gare basse
At West Superior street, the bottom station was pulverized by the car on the right track; the car was also pulverized! Nobody were injured because after the fire at the top station, the rupture of the cable was predicted and the bottom station was evacuated!
A la West Superior street, la gare inférieure a été pulvérisée par la voiture de droite qui elle-même a été pulvérisée! Il n’y eu pas de victimes parce qu’après l’incendie la rupture du câble avait été prévue et la gare basse avait été évacuée!




May 28, 1901 – The wreck of the incline / L’accident du funiculaire
This is the photo of Quiz #25
The car seems intact but the bottom station was pulverized! Note the frontal entrance of the car.
Et voilà la photo du Quiz #25
La voiture semble intacte alors que la gare basse a été pulvérisée! Notez l’entrée frontale de la voiture.


May 28, 1901 – The wreck of the incline / L’accident du funiculaire
On this document, you can see the details of the car. It was mostly a platform for carriages and horses. There was a small compartment for passengers on the exterior side of the cars.
Sur ce document on peut voir les détails de la voiture. C’était une plate forme pouvant transporter des chariots, des chevaux et des passagers qui disposaient d’une petite cabine allongée sur le côté extérieur des voitures.


May 28, 1901 – The top station after the fire / La gare supérieure après l’incendie
This photo was taken after the rupture of the cable… the top car is not there anymore!
Interesting details of the pulleys.
Cette photo a été prise après la rupture du câble… la voiture qui était stationnée à la gare supérieure n’est plus là! Détails intéressants des grandes poulies.


May 28, 1901 – The top station after the fire / La gare supérieure après l’incendie

End of part 1 / Fin de la première partie

The photos are from the Minnesota Digital Library and with a big work for rebuilding!


See also these posts / Voir aussi ces articles:

Duluth, 7th Avenue West Incline (Part 2)

Belt Line Incline – Duluth, Minnesota

13 thoughts on “Duluth, 7th Avenue West Incline – Solution of Quiz #25 (Part 1)”

  1. The reason that you can not see the second car is that it was totally destroyed. The car you can see was the one at the bottom station. If you look at the before and after pictures of the bottom station you will see that the pile of debris is the car that crashed.

  2. Peter, you are right…
    The car which was at the top during the fire was the car on the right track. On the pict where the car is at the top station after the fire and before the rupture of the cable, we can see the passenger compartment on the right side of the car. It means that the car which crashed was on the right track…
    Thank you Peter!

  3. The roof in the middle of the street is not the roof of the crashed car.
    I guess it is the roof of a bottom station which was built after the ‘before’ photo…
    I know I don’t have a ‘before’ photo of the bottom station with such a roof but as you will see in the part 2, years later they rebuilt such a bottom station with just a roof to protect people from rain.

  4. Funimag > C passionnant.

    Une autre question s’impose: Où se trouvait le contrepoids? Sur la deuxième photo on voit un câble entre les rails de la voie droite parce que la cabine se trouvait dans la station supérieure. Toutefois, à gauche, la cabine se trouvant à la station supérieure, on voit deux câbles… je ne comprends rien…

    Funimag> It is exciting.

    One question is obvious: where was the counterweight? On the second photo we can see a cable between the rails of the right track because the car is at the top station. However, on the left, the car is at the top station, we see two cables… I don’t understand…

  5. Andreas> On the second photo, there is only one car… on the right track! On the left side what you see is not the second car, it is the entrance of the top station. The left car is at the bottom station at the end of the two big cables!
    The question is… on the right track, what is this small cable?
    Is this small cable linked to the two cars from the bottom station as a tightener cable (as on modern funiculars!)?

  6. Funimag > Oui certes… but what is attached to the other end of the cable between the rails of the left track?

    Since you mentioned that those were counterbalanced cars, the cable of the right track must have been attached to the counterweight… but where is it?

    It’s hard to see why a funicular with such a steep track would need a tightener cable.

  7. I said counterbalanced because one car counterbalances the other one as classical funiculars.
    The small cable? It is just a supposition of a tightener cable…

  8. Andreas> I know this photo but I think the flames are painting which have been added.

    Yes I agree with you, the cables configurations during the three periods of the incline must be investigated more!
    I hope to have more informations about that soon…

  9. GuyD> This is a good question I asked myself…
    Hope to have the answer soon…
    I don’t think emergency brakes were very used on old US inclines…
    Even on Angel’s Flight there was no emergency brakes when the mortal accident occurred on February 1st, 2001!

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