Metamorphosis: Industry replaces homesSometimes, all it takes to make a neighborhood is a single neighbor. Or, in the case of Connors Point, two.
By: Maria Lockwood, The Daily Telegram
Sometimes, all it takes to make a neighborhood is a single neighbor. Or, in the case of Connors Point, two.
A trio of houses huddle together along what was once Superior’s busiest roadway — Main Street. The rest of the point, which boasts a ringside view of vessels gliding under the Blatnik Bridge, belongs to industry.
Deer and ducks are familiar sites, but not playing children.
This 1.5-mile spit of land has been Helen Carlson’s home for 89 years. The cheery, red house she fills with homemade ornaments every Christmas is where she grew up as a child.
“I’ll stay here until they carry me out,” she said.
But is Connors Point a neighborhood?
When Carlson had cataract surgery a while back, neighbor Sandy Hartshorn visited her daily.
“She came and put drops in my eyes,” Carlson said.
These days, Hartshorn continues to lend a hand when Carlson, who can’t get outside much, has a need.
“She’s just a good neighbor,” said the 89-year-old.
Then there’s Steve Hill, the point’s other resident. Carlson may not know him very well, but she knew his mother.
“Oh, yeah, it’s still a neighborhood,” Carlson said.
Yet it’s changed drastically.
Residential homes began cropping up on the point in the 1880s, according to old newspaper articles. Archives show the point was home to more than 1,000 residents in its heyday. It once boasted a school, two churches, a fire hall, three bars and five grocery stores.
The bustling Connors Point of Carlson’s youth included a coal dock, a sawmill and, most important to a child, a number of candy stores.
When Carlson began raising her own children on Connors Point, more than 4,000 vehicles passed her front door each day. Main Street was the artery connecting Superior to Duluth by way of the Interstate Bridge. When the Blatnik Bridge opened in 1961, however, the street became a dead end.
“It’s much, much different,” Carlson said. Even with a number of industries literally next door, Connors Point seems wrapped in silence.
Superior Steel settled into the spot across from Carlson’s home. The business is a good neighbor.
“I don’t even hear them unless they cut the grass,” she said.
But she could set her clocks based on vehicle traffic. Every morning, noon and evening, workers leave the point past her red house.
Despite the industry, deer are a common sight on the peninsula. Carlson has seen as many as 17 at a time in her yard.
“In the summertime ... I curse them because they eat apples off the tree and the flowers I plant,” she said. “Right now, I miss them. I haven’t seen them in a couple weeks.”
Carlson’s parents immigrated to Connors Point from Poland in 1913. She was one of seven siblings to grow up on the ever-changing stretch of land.
“I’m afraid of water,” Carlson confessed. “I never learned to swim.” But all five of her children, who also grew up on the point, can.
She did move once after her marriage to Leonard Carlson in 1939. But it wasn’t far.
“I just moved across the street,” she said.
Some of her children still live close by, including a daughter in Poplar. Carlson said her daughters always stop by to dress up the Connors Point home for the holidays. Other children traveled farther. Carlson’s son, Jim, has invited her to relocate to Lake Havasu, Ariz., with him. But she declined.
“I just want to stay in my own house,” she said.
Thanks to the help of a neighbor — or two — she plans to do just that.
Call Maria Lockwood at call (715) 395-5025 or e-mail mlockwood@superiortelegram.