One hundred years ago, two women, referred to as "girl hikers" in the News Tribune, completed a 168-mile route from Minneapolis to the McKay Hotel, then located in downtown Duluth.

It was an eight-day trek for Lottie Wolstad and Eleanor Bill of the Minneapolis Hiking Club. They were described in the News Tribune as arriving in town with "their khaki hiking costumes covered with heavy dust." They were said to have unslung their packs and surprised the room clerk when they said they were from Minneapolis.

"Tired? I'll say we are," they were quoted as saying. "And blisters! I never knew they grew so big."

Wolstad and Bill said they trained by doing a three-day, 61-mile hike.

They averaged 21 miles a day, with less-than-20-pound packs and "sunny dispositions," and told the reporter that they refused at least 150 offers for a lift along the way. The hikes began at 4 a.m. and lasted until a three-hour mid-day break, where they would dine at cafes and hotels. They would begin hiking again at 2 p.m. and keep going until dusk.

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The McKay Hotel, where the duo finally landed, was at 430 W. First St., at the current spot of the Duluth News Tribune. According to, the Duluth Eskimos of the NFL practiced across the street, and the hotel was the "team's clubhouse, training quarters and dressing room." And its players used the Turkish bath.

There was no single exciting moment, according to the women, and they didn't encounter a disrespectful word.

The hikers were expected to take the Tionesta, a Great Lakes passenger and freight vessel, from Duluth to Buffalo, New York, before returning to Minneapolis by rail.

"Do it again? You bet we will," one is quoted as saying. "We were awfully tired when we arrived, but after this rest, we could walk the rest of the way to the coast and never feel it."

This story was told as part of Once Upon a Time in Duluth, a Wednesday feature on the News Tribune Minute podcast.

(News Tribune archive)
(News Tribune archive)