Fort St. Louis (7)
Fort St. Louis (7) (1793-1817, 1816-1847) - Established as a North West Company fur trading post and Fort by Jean-Baptiste Perrault in 1793 near present-day Superior in Douglas County, Wisconsin. Replaced by Fond du Lac Post in 1816. Fort St. Louis abandoned in 1817 and the replacement Fond du Lac Post closed in 1847.
Established as a North West Company (NWC) trading post in 1793. The stockaded post reportedly had two one-gun blockhouses, two 40' long houses with a 60' long warehouse and shed. It became a distribution depot for company merchandise and supplies and a headquarters for the NWC Fond du Lac department and by 1805 the region had 109 NWC employees.
The NWC was a British Canada company, operating in what was American territory and by 1805 it had been forced to move their Grand Portage Post headquarters back into Canadian territory at Fort William. Some of their trading posts, including Fort St. Louis, located along the south shore of Lake Superior, were now clearly in American territory.
South West Company
To counter the territory problem, NWC joined with John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company in 1811 to form the South West Company (SWC). The SWC then controlled the fur trade on the southern shore of Lake Superior and Fond du Lac until the War of 1812 caused the South West Company to be dissolved. The NWC resumed control of the Fond du Lac Department until the post-war American Congress barred foreigners from trading in American territory in 1816.
Astor purchased the South West Company assets and began building a new Fond du Lac Post at a different location. He abandoned Fort St. Louis when the new post was complete. The remaining NWC residents of Fort St. Louis hung on for a while but abandoned it in 1817 because of the prohibition on foreign traders.
Astor’s new Fond du Lac Post was initially managed by William Morrison. Structures included a two-story log building, a granary, ice house, stable, a dormitory for traders, and the post commander’s house. The post was surrounded by a cedar-post fence.
The fur trade declined in the 1830s and the Fond du Lac Post established a commercial fishing enterprise to provide additional income. Astor’s charter expired in 1833. A financial panic in 1837 and a change in fashion favoring silk hats all but ended the fur trade. The company failed in 1842 and the fur post closed by 1847.
Artist James Otto Lewis traveled to Fond du Lac in 1826 and painted watercolors of Astor’s fur post and a Treaty Signing. See the trading post painting here.
No visible remains at the indicated location of Fort St. Louis. is identified as at Connor's Point near present-day Second (Bay) and Winter Streets in Superior, Wisconsin. The replacement Fond du Lac Post reportedly faced the St. Louis River near 133rd Avenue West in the nearby Fond du Lac neighborhood of Duluth Minnesota. The actual site is established as Astor Park at 133rd Ave. & West 2nd Street. Zenith City Press - Historical Park
The stone monument in the Park was placed by the D.A.R. Chapters of Duluth in January 1923. The bronze plaque set in the stone notes the early history of Fond du Lac. The boulder came from Jay Cooke State Park. The flagpole and bench were installed by the D.A.R. in 1932.
A Phase I field survey conducted on the Historical Park project was conducted from 25 Sep 2015 though 1 Oct 2015. The field examination of the project area identified eight historic locations that included physical evidence of three dwellings, one ice house, an excursion boat facility, a man-made levee and pier footings associated with the boat excursion structure, and two possible stone foundation remnants possibly associated with the fur trade post.