Enger Park and TowerWelcoming Tourists Since the 1930s
By: Rob Hedburg | July 16, 2018
Featuring breath-taking views of Duluth, Enger Park is among Duluth’s most popular spots for visitors and locals alike. Located just off Hank Jensen Drive and wrapped by West Skyline Parkway, Enger Park rests comfortably above Central Park in an area known once as Grand Mountain. The history of the park includes its creation from an act of generosity, festive visits from royalty, and triumph over vandalism. Let’s look at how one of Duluth’s iconic locations came to be!
The park and tower are both named after Bert Enger, a furniture dealer from the West End (now known as Lincoln Park). Enger died in 1931 at age 68, never having married. He willed two-thirds of his estate to the city of Duluth for the development of a lookout tower and beautified grounds for tourists to enjoy. By 1939, a five-story tall tower was completed in Enger’s honor at a cost of $30,000. This would be around $540,000 adjusted for inflation in 2018, according to the online calculator from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Enger estate funded the tower’s construction.
Enger Park has twice welcomed world royalty. In June 1939, Crown Prince Olav and Princess Martha of Norway arrived in the park to formally dedicate Enger Tower in memory of Bert Enger. Olav would later be crowned King Olav V in 1957. 2011 saw the arrival of King Harald V of Norway (the son of Olav V) and Queen Sonja. Both royal visits were to commemorate Enger Tower, the first for its official dedication and the second to celebrate restorative repairs that took place.
Enger Tower endured several acts of vandalism and abuse throughout the years. Some of the abuses suffered included: the beacon lights of the tower being shot out during the 1940s and one instance reported in 1978, heavy rocks being dropped from the top of the tower during the 1960s, and a bonfire being burned from the top of the tower in 1989. Fortunately, the tower stands strong today thanks to a $400,000 restoration that took place from 2010 to 2011. $100,000 of the restoration was funded thanks to a grant from Duluth’s Rotary Club 25. The restoration took place in anticipation of the aforementioned arrival of King Harald V and Queen Sonja.
Strolling through the main section of Enger Park, you will notice the Japanese Peace Bell Garden. The Peace Garden features the Peace Bell, which is a replica of a Buddhist temple bell from Ohara, Japan. As Zenith City Online notes, the original bell resided in Duluth following the end of World War II up until 1954, when it was returned to Japan. Sailors aboard the USS Duluth had found the original bell in a Japanese scrapyard. Duluth became sister cities with Ohara in 1990. As a token of this new relationship, citizens from the Japanese city sent a replica of the original bell to Duluth. Today, visitors to the park can ring the bell with a clapper that hangs adjacent to it.
If you have not yet made the trip along Skyline Parkway to visit Enger Park, make sure to add it to your Duluth bucket list!
Until next time, happy travels!