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The Foghorn (TOOT)

Duluth's historic diaphone foghorn, unused for more than a year, was dismantled between September 2006 and July 2007 and its components put in storage by TOOT (reTurn Our Old Tone), the non-profit owner of the horn. Reader forum comments from the Duluth News Tribune are continued below from an earlier page. We'll add more on Duluth's historic horn as time allows. Contact Us to send your thoughts for publication here.



TOOT, page 1
TOOT, page 2
This page: Commentary from Duluth News Tribune's moderated Forum, conclusion


It is sad to see it go !I think living with a fog horn is like living close to a rail main line near a grade crossing! You do get used to it! But unfortunatally times and needs change and the fog horn is from a by-gone era! Yester-year it was badly needed today it is like a flat tire ! No one wants it! I do hope that it is properly preserved and displayed!

Posted by: Ned Gang 9/27/2006 12:18 PM


Even though I don't live in Duluth any more, I loved the sound of the old fog horn when I visited. When I was a kid, we lived near downtown on 4th street and could hear it's soothing sound when it was foggy. Yes, soothing! It used to lull me right to sleep. I was so glad when TOOT brought it back - too bad it's going the way of so many old, comforting things.

Posted by: Pat McClure 9/27/2006 12:34 PM


We need a bigger louder horn.

Posted by: 9/27/2006 12:49 PM


I loved the sound of the old foghorn. I went to UMD and whether you were walking to class or studying in your apartment, you could hear the foghorn and it was such a good feeling... It really gives Duluth that extra something, and I will definitely miss that!

Posted by: Heather 9/27/2006 12:52 PM


Its funny, I had to move away from Duluth for work but I miss it.. If I moved back it sure wouldnt be the same Duluth I grew up in.. Its seems that beautiful city really has some issues.

Posted by: 9/27/2006 1:00 PM


I will miss the old fog horn. Hopefully they can do something to preserve it or keep it around the ship canel as a keep sake

Posted by: Joe 9/27/2006 1:10 PM


I completely agree with Tom Cox. It's so sad to see some of these changes in Duluth. I have grown up here and am very proud of the things that make Duluth, Duluth! We are a tourist city and people come here to see our city and the special attractions we have. I live right next to the bridge and loved the foghorn sound. It just makes a person remember days gone by and what Duluth was like. It is so sad to see these things going 1 by 1. Why are people trying to change the things that make our city so special?

Posted by: Lorrie 9/27/2006 1:18 PM


It is so sad to hear that a beautiful part of Duluth is gone forever. I was born in Duluth in 1946 but moved away in 1981. In the 25 years I've been gone, I've thought of the ol fog horn many times when thinking about Duluth. I hope Two Harbors will purchase it so it can continue to sound to those great ships on Lake Superior. So sad to see it go.

Posted by: Jim Clute, Sr. 9/27/2006 1:44 PM


This is a major loss of one of the things which made Duluth unique. It was one of the reasons I moved here and its loss is one of the reasons I'm moving away. I used to love listening to its loud call at night while I laid in bed in my Endion neighborhood apartment, thinking of the fog, the history, the romance, life on the water. It's a shame a handful of complainers who could have lived in 99.9% of the country and much of Duluth without ever hearing a foghorn helped to kill it. The reason Larson hasn't heard much complaint about its loss is because it's been a lost cause for a couple years.

Posted by: greentangle 9/27/2006 1:50 PM


If you partner with Duluth you will eventually lose!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: 9/27/2006 2:06 PM


Disgraceful! Removing the foghorn is tatamount to removing the Aerial Bridge! It is our history; our heritage! This is a port city. As a child, upon hearing the foghorn at night, as I was put to sleep, I was told by my parents that the foghorn kept shipping safe, and called the ships to port. This was a comforting childhood memory. I entertain quite a few out-of-towners during the course of each year...and 100% of them have enquired about the foghorn, and have moaned and bewailed its absence. It's as much a part of; a landmark of Duluth (that should be used, maintained and preserved) as the Aerial Bridge. It's absolutely ludicrious and short-sighted to let it go.

Posted by: Thomas Moberg 9/27/2006 3:14 PM


Growing up in Central Hillside, having since moved, but continuing to work downtown, I miss the security of the sound - odd thing - like the "feeling safe" hearing the sirens...

Posted by: 9/27/2006 3:15 PM


As a frequent visitor to Duluth, both my husband and I loved the sound of the foghorn. It is/was so unique to the city. I can not believe it has been removed.

Posted by: 9/27/2006 3:31 PM


What???? That fog horn IS Duluth !!! Shoot....just ask for donations and stop taking it apart!!! I am sure many would help if given a chance.

Posted by: Bette J (Todorovich) Johnson 9/27/2006 4:09 PM


That foghorn is part of what makes Duluth, Duluth! It should be repaired and put to use, or at least it's sound should be duplicated, if possible. It is a part of history.

Posted by: Konnie Ellis 9/27/2006 4:22 PM


Any chance we can get a recording of the old fog horn?

Posted by: MB 9/27/2006 4:23 PM


I would rather partner with a crooked ganster killer then with duluth, But you would have to be a complete moron to want to parner with Duluth knowing what it has under the hood(city council, deda). Thats alot of hot air and no horsepower.

Posted by: 9/27/2006 4:29 PM


No wonder Duluth is on such a downward slide. Everyone in Duluth is living in the past and no one can see the problems the city is facing.

Posted by: 9/27/2006 4:54 PM


Glad to see that old worn out piece of navagation gone. I'm tired of seeing Ringred shoving things he wants down our throats. He and the rest of you that likes to be awaken in the middle of the night by that old piece of crap can KISS MY BUTT!

Posted by: 9/27/2006 5:53 PM


It seems some people don't want history preserved. They fail to realize that what happens today is history tomorrow.

Posted by: 9/27/2006 6:20 PM


People want jobs first.

If you do most of your shopping at the food shelf and steal the rest do you think you give a crap about a fog horn when every phone call you get is a bill collector.

Posted by: 9/27/2006 6:29 PM


Why don't you just go bankrupt?

Posted by: 9/27/2006 6:30 PM


You can hear a blast of the horn by going to and scrolling down to the bottom for a link.

Posted by: 9/27/2006 6:36 PM


i think the foghorn was a trademark to duluth, being that it's gone we're losing even more pieces of historical aspects that we pride ourself on here in duluth.

Posted by: 9/27/2006 7:46 PM


Sally Larson:

The foghorn is gone, thanks to you, and about 10 other vocal whiners.

Your group, SOS (Save Our Serenity), has managed to ruin a beautiful part of our port environment for the other 80,000 of us residents, and countless visitors.

Your pure selfishness, or lets be nice and call it insomnia neurosis, could not tolerate 5-10 days per year of the foghorn, sounding during daylight hours only.

And youve got the gall to criticize Eric Ringsred and TOOT (Im a long-time member) for lack of compromise!!! Hey, we compromised with you complainers in 1991 to restrict hours of operation from 7AM 11PM. Then your group of deal breakers came back in 2004 to whine for more compromise, restricting operation from 8AM 10PM which we reluctantly agreed to AGAIN. And you say WE didnt compromise??? Ringsred should sue you for defamation.

So, the next time its foggy in Duluth and the old foghorn is not sounding, I hope it makes you happy at how sad you have made countless others.

Posted by: Foghorn Friend 9/27/2006 8:04 PM


The Duluth News Tribune article was a nice, balanced story by Peter Passi and Bob King.

A little too gentle, perhaps, on the City of Duluth and Coast Guard officials.

My own, admittedly biased, point of view will appear tomorrow at And we will be supplementing this with more factual and historical data on the foghorn over the coming weeks.

Posted by: Eric Ringsred 9/27/2006 8:06 PM


I worked with TOOT and the bridge operators for 10 years helping to get the foghorn running up to "par" , making sure it was well maintained, and even reverse enginnering the old original "blueprints" for the diaphone so that new replacement parts could be manufactured. The only electrical problem the old foghorn had was that "high tech" piece of junk fog detection system that the Coast Guard required for operation.

Posted by: Jeff Laser, Bellville, Ohio 9/27/2006 8:15 PM


Anyone else sick of Ringsred? This guys needs a real life...How about some news about our brave Troops? This paper stinks...Print some real news!

Posted by: 9/27/2006 8:24 PM


A couple of years ago, I made a short video using the foghorn. The sound of it during a rainy day is one of my fondest memories of growing up in Duluth. The video can be viewed at Harbor Fog (You'll need Quicktime).

Posted by: Mark Ryan 9/27/2006 8:28 PM


The diaphone is an amazing work of technology that originated a a "stop" for the famous WURLITZER pipe organ (1895). Later, John Pell-Northey of Toronto, Canada redesigned the tone generator and resonator and so that the diaphone could be employed as a high powered sound in air fog signal. Duluth will now have the stigma in maritime preservation circles as being the place where diaphone technology died!!! Perhaps Duluth wasn't worthy of such a fine techonolgy after all. My special thanks to Sally and her S.O.S. chronies, and former Mayor Doty for their efforts in killing an important part of our maritime heritage and history!

Posted by: Jeff Laser, Bellville, Ohio 9/27/2006 8:29 PM


Some of my fondest memories while growing up in the 60's was of the harbor area, the lakers/salties/tugs, the trains running back and forth along there. I also remember I could hear the fog horn on those foggy nights when falling asleep in my parents house or the houses of my grandparents up on the Hillside in "Little Italy". As a kid I would imagine what it could be like while sailing on a boat in that heavy fog on Lake Superior. I don't live there any more (military life took me away) but I regularly travel back home to visit family. I remember hearing the horn a few years ago and it brought back lots of memories of my very youthful imagination. I'm sorry I won't be able to hear it again.

Posted by: 9/27/2006 9:11 PM


You can hear a blast by going to and scrolling to the bottom for a link.

Posted by: 9/27/2006 9:21 PM


How backward of the City of Duluth to let the wonderous foghorn die and instead try to push the Great Lakes Aquarium on us. They have ripped out the heart of Duluth and instead fed us and taxed us for an aquarium. If only a tiny percentage of the aquarium money could be spent on the foghorn, something eminently more important to our city, we could have the foghorn return to being the heart of the Zenith City. Any drummed up "liability issues" can easily be overcome with new legal text making it clear that the foghorn is no longer used as a navigation aid in this era of GPS, but as a beacon of spirit and hope for Dulthians.

I thank Eric Ringsred for the years of effort and love he has shown in trying to keep Duluth's foghorn going. The battle is not yet over, and working together those who want to keep our city's foghorn can save it, but we must act now.

Posted by: Lane R. Ellis 9/27/2006 11:02 PM


This city can spend big money on a bunch of money losing nonsence but godforbid fifteen thousand or so to keep the foghorn operating.Risk of liability is a big bunch of B.S. When I was growing up in the 30s and 40s the foghorn lullabyed me to sleep on foggy nites. What a shame what a loss. Lyle Anderson Park Pointer.

Posted by: 9/28/2006 1:21 AM


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