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Who knew? A Duluth tale involving the president

The tale involves two cities — and I’m not making this up.

President Joe Biden speaking from the White House after his coronavirus pandemic relief legislation passed in the Senate on March 6, 2021.
REUTERS/Erin Scott
President Joe Biden
President Biden was in Duluth on Thursday.

If that catches you by surprise, it’s because it’s not our Duluth. Turns out there’s a smaller Duluth (population 29,609) in Georgia. Not exactly tiny, but I never heard of it before.

And why is there a Duluth in Georgia, especially since what we’ll call for the moment Big Duluth, the one in Minnesota, is named in a screwed-up way for a French explorer/voyageur who explored that area in the 1670s and ’80s? That guy is credited with helping negotiate a peace treaty between two Native nations, and is considered the first European to have looked around what later became Duluth.

Why do I say it’s named for him in a screwed-up way? Because the guy’s name was Daniel Greysolon (say it with a French accent). But he also called himself by the title Sieur du L’hut. And he sometimes signed himself “Dulhut.” And that got mangled (or, you might say, anglicized), during the naming of Minnesota’s second biggest city, into Duluth. So now you know how Duluth, Minnesota, got its name.

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The Duluth in Georgia is not named for the voyageur. It’s named for the Minnesota City.

Duluth, Georgia, used to be named Howell’s Crossing, but renamed itself “Duluth” in 1871 after Congress funded the extension of a railroad line into Howell’s Crossing. The railroad line’s northern terminus was in Duluth, Minnesota, which somehow inspired the Georgia town to rename itself “Duluth, Georgia” in celebration of the other end of its railroad line.

I did not make any of this up. I got it through several Wikipedia articles. And I don’t believe Wikipedia made it up either.