Superior Once Predicted to be “Next Chicago”

Northland Uncovered: Superior the Boom Town?

SUPERIOR, Wis. – Today, the Twin Ports is a thriving harbor, but years ago the city of Superior was predicted to be the “next Chicago.”

Executive Director of the Douglas County Historical Society, Tony Tracy, says the population was once even at 40,000 compared to the nearly 27,000 today.

Tracy says the enthusiasm for the city started back in the 1600s.

As excitement began to rise for the city, John Jacob Astor brought the American Fur Company to town for trading purposes in the early 1800s.

By the time the 1850s rolled around, that excitement started to rise.

According to Tracy, that’s because there were 2,000 miles of navigable water.

Many saw this as promising because there could be “water to rail” exchanges.

James J. Hill and Steven Douglas were also involved in this development.

However, an economic depression in Europe and bank fears in the United States caused a ripple effect on the City of Superior.

Check out the interview above for more details on the rise and decline of Superior.

For more information head to the Douglas County Historical Society head to or visit them at 1101 John Avenue, Superior, WI 54880.

They can also be reached at (715) 392-8449.


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Thursday: 12 noon – 8 p.m.
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Saturday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
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