50 years later: Kennedy’s visit to Duluth, Ashland

President John F. Kennedy departs the Hotel Duluth on Sept. 25, 1963. Duluth News Tribune archive

President John F. Kennedy departs Hotel Duluth on Sept. 25, 1963. Duluth News Tribune archive

It was 50 years ago today that President Kennedy walked out the doors of the Hotel Duluth in Duluth, Minnesota and flew off to another stop on his national tour. The day before he had landed and spoke in Ashland, Wisconsin at an airport that now bears his name before speaking and politicking in Duluth on his only Presidential visit to northern Minnesota.

Kennedy’s visit to Duluth was touting his domestic agenda and conservation programs in the run-up to what was supposed to be a tough re-election campaign in 1964. The JFK library has this White House film describing that particular trip, which is worth a watch if you’ve 28 minutes:

Kennedy had campaigned in Duluth and Hibbing before his 1960 election, his stop at the Hibbing Memorial Building still the stuff of local political legend:

“This is the Iron Range, and the Iron Range is the power of the United States. I believe we need an administration that will put this country to work again, that will move this country forward.” – Senator John F. Kennedy – Hibbing Memorial Building, October 2, 1960

The fall 1963 presidential visit to northern Minnesota and Wisconsin was made more significant by the fact that just two months later Kennedy would be assassinated in Dallas, changing the course of U.S. history.

Last Sunday the Duluth News Tribune reported several stories of peoples’ memories of the Kennedy visit, and WDIO shared this story today from former anchor Dennis Anderson, who covered the Ashland stop as a 19-year-old radio reporter.


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