North American Hotel
A corporation composed of Duluth and Minneapolis people, and known as the North American Hotel company, was organized to build and own the hotel. It was to be a first class hotel, and a “credit to northern Minnesota”, being three stories with basement, and at least 48 rooms. It was to be finished with stucco, then later with brick, and there were to be two large dining parlors, one for transients, and the other for employees of the mining and pottery companies. There was to be a giant fireplace in the lobby.
Hotel construction was started in late 1910, and was slated to be finished for a January 1 opening. The foundation was finished by February of 1911, and in April of 1911, construction was resumed. (The featured photo comes from April of 1911, also referenced below.) No record has been found yet as to when it was completed, but there are mentions in 1915 that seem to indicate it had been finished and was in operation.
As we learn more about the North American Hotel, we will continue to update the information here.
The hotel is located at the northeastern corner of the site of the Town of Walsh, in Kugler Township of northern Minnesota. The North American Mine was located about half a mile from the hotel, to the northeast.
The hotel is visible in these two images fetched from the St. Louis County Land Explorer – the first is from 1937-1941, and the hotel is located in the center of the map; the second from 2013 is a closer view that shows the walls within the small grove of trees that grew up around and through the hotel’s ruins slightly below the center of the map. (Look for the obvious grove of trees.)
Another photo of the hotel’s construction from another angle, showing the large protruding sections of the hotel. This photo is from the Duluth Herald, Vol 29, No 98 – Aug 1, 1911.
Road to the hotel – an old logging road across the Town of Walsh from the SW corner to the NE corner. Logging debris covers this road. The road runs roughly half a mile from where the grade intersects the SW corner of the Town of Walsh.
Some photos of the walls. The walls are a foot or more thick, and were poured layer by layer. The hotel was built partly into the hillside so the ground comes up to the top of the foundation in one corner and drops down by roughly 12 feet on the opposite corner. There were a couple of extra outer walls and hallways that seem like they could have been alternate entryways or storage rooms. Some chunks of the wall of the lowest side of the foundation have fallen down, but all four corners and most of the walls of the building are intact. There seem to be no stairs anywhere on the premises, which raises the questions of whether stairs would have been wood or concrete or brick, and if they were removed.
In a few places you can see the wood of the concrete forms sticking out of the walls.
Partiers came up here throughout the years. This can is probably from the 80s.
An old boiler or tank of some kind, found outside the hotel foundation.
Along one wall on the outside there were concrete footing pads. These were for the sections of the hotel protruding from the side overlooking the valley to the northwest. LakeVermilion.net also found footings evenly spaced around the basement floor.
This looks like some kind of cover in the middle of the hotel’s basement. The seam goes all the way around but there were no obvious ways to lift the cover if it is one.
There was a back room in the basement, which seems to have been a root or wine cellar. There are some old pieces of metal still laying around in here, and it looks like some pieces are probably buried in the mud floor too. This room’s outer wall has partially caved in, leaving the floor above leaning down at a steep angle, laying on the rubble.
From the Tower Weekly News, Vol 11, No 22 – Friday, October 28, 1910
New Hotel for Town of Walsh
Work Expected to Begin at Once on New $50,000 Hostelry
The new town of Walsh at the North American Mine, is to have a modern hotel to cost about $50,000, and to be ready for the grand opening Jan 1st, according to a report sent out from here a few days ago. A corporation composed of Duluth and Minneapolis people, and known as the North American Hotel company, has been organized to build and own the hotel.
Plans for the hotel have been made and are now ready to submit to the contractors. It is expected that a contract for the construction will be awarded this week. The hotel will be constructed of brick and will have 48 rooms. The lobby will be provided with an old fashioned fire place capable of receiving a six foot backlog. The appointment of the hotel will be first-class in every particular and will be a credit to northern Minnesota. A grand opening will be arranged for about New Year’s day, and invitations will be extended to people interested in the Vermilion range everywhere, and to all the oldtimers of Duluth and the ranges, as well as the newer crowd that is interested on the Vermilion.
The new hotel will be constructed of brick, and it will be three stories high with basement. The Duluth & Iron Range road has completed an extension to the town of Walsh, and work at the mine is being pushed vigorously. The work of shaft sinking is in active progress.
Activity is marked at a dozen or more of the Vermilion range prospects. Most of the companies are getting in their winter supplies of coal and other commodities, and it is expected that before spring a number of the propositions which are now in prospect stage will have proven whether they have mines or not. There is little doubt that some of these prospects will make good.
From the Tower Weekly News, Vol 11, No 23 – Friday, November 4, 1910
Work Starts on New Hotel
Ground has been broken for the new $50,000 hotel to be built at Walsh. A crew of men and teams started Monday excavating for the foundation and leveling off the grounds. The hotel will be built on the brow of the ridge a short distance south of the North American mine./ A Minneapolis contractor has the work in charge. T. J. Walsh stated yesterday that the hotel would be finished and ready for the grand opening Jan. 1st, as had originally been planned. The new hotel will be constructed of brick manufactured on the ground by the North American Brick, Tile & Pottery Co., a concern recently organized. It will be three stories high with basement and will have 48 rooms. There will be two large dining parlors, one for transients, and the other for employes of the mining and pottery companies. A corporation composed of Duluth and Minneapolis people, and known as the North American Hotel Co., has been organized to build and own the hotel.
From the Tower Weekly News, Vol 11, No – Friday, February 3, 1911
Contracts have been let for the finishing of the new hotel at the town of Walsh, near Tower Junction. Work will no doubt begin as soon as milder weather prevails. The concrete foundation is now in.
From the Tower Weekly News, Vol 11, No 46 – Friday, April 14, 1911
Work Starts on New Hotel
Work was resumed Monday on the construction of the hotel building at the North American mine. A. E. Green has charge of the work for contractor Heglund, and a crew of men from Minneapolis and a number of local laborers are employed. The structure is to be of stucco, and the main floors will be tiled. The hotel will be modern in eyery way and is estimated to cost $50,000. It will contain two dining rooms, one for transients and another for employes of the brick yard and mining companies. The building, which will contain forty or fifty sleeping rooms, will rise three stories above the basement.
The site is a charming one on a hillside and overlooks the various enterprises of the new townsite.
(The featured photo was included with this article.)
From the Tower Weekly News, Vol 11, No 46 – Friday, April 21, 1911
The petition of T. J. Walsh and others for a new road from the North American mine to connect with the Tower and Hinsdale road at a point one half mile south of town has been presented to the board of county commissioners and will be acted upon at the June meeting. The petition is signed by a large number of influential people and will undobtedly be granted.
From the Tower Weekly News, Vol 12, No 1 – Friday, June 2, 1911
Mine Wealth of the Vermilion
Hidden Iron Treasure of Our Great Range Being Sought by Large Numbers
The work of construction on the North American hotel is progressing and the structure is now under roof and partly enclosed. The building is the first large structure on the townsite of Walsh, and it is of handsome architectural design.