SUPERIOR, WISCONSIN, a city, a port of entry and the county-seat of Douglas county, Wisconsin, U.S.A., about 140 m. N. by E. of Minneapolis and St Paul, on Superior, St Louis and Allouez bays at the head of Lake Superior, and directly opposite Duluth, Minnesota, with which it is connected by ferry and by railway and road bridges. Pop. (1890), 11,983; (1900), 31,091, of whom 11,419 were foreign-born (2854 Swedish, 2404 English Canadians, 2026 Norwegian, and 801 German), and 186 were negroes; (.1910, U.S. census), 40,384. Superior is served by the Northern Pacific, the Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic, the Wisconsin Central, the Great Northern, the Minneapolis, St Paul & Sault Ste Marie, and the Chicago & North-Western railways, and (for freight only) by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul. A belt line railway connects the several systems. Superior shares with Duluth one of the finest natural inland harbours in the world. The harbour, which has been improved by the Federal government, is formed by two narrow strips of sandy land, known as Minnesota and Wisconsin Points, which extend several miles across the head of the lake from the Minnesota and Wisconsin shores respectively and almost meet in the centre. The body of water thus formed, Superior and Allouez bays, varies in width from i to i| m., and is 9! m. long. St Louis Bay, on the west, is about 15 by 4 m. The city is situated on gently rising ground facing these bays, and has 29 m. of harbour frontage. The settlement of Superior at different times and in different places is responsible for the large area covered by the city (36-1 sq. m.) and its appearance is that of three distinct towns. The intervening portions have however been platted and are now largely settled. Superior is the seat of a state normal school (1896), which occupies a splendidly equipped building, and, in addition to the ordinary normal courses, has departments of kindergarten training, manual training and domestic science. The city is the see of a Roman Catholic bishop. Superior has a cheap fuel supply and power is furnished by electricity generated on the St Louis river. In 1905 the value of its factory products was $6,356,981. Flour is the principal product, and shipbuilding is important. Among steel ships, the type known as the " whaleback " originated here; and iron and wooden ships, launches and small pleasure craft are also made. Other manufactures are railway cars, casks, cooperage, saw and planing mill products, furniture, wooden ware, windmills, gas-engines, and mattresses and wire beds. Superior is an important grain market. Much iron and copper ore is shipped from the Duluth-Superior harbour; and large quantities of coal, brought by lake boats, are distributed from here throughout the American and Canadian North-west. The total tonnage of the DuluthSuperior Harbour was estimated in 1908 to be exceeded in the United States only by that of New York and that of Philadelphia.
Pierre Esprit Radisson and Medard Chouart des Groseilliers probably visited the site of Superior in 1661, and it is practically certain that other French coureurs-des-bois were here at different times before Daniel Greysolon, Sieur Du Lhut (Duluth), established a trading post in the neighbourhood about 1678. About 1820 the Hudson's Bay Company established a post here, but there was no permanent settlement until after the middle of the 19th century. Attention was directed to the site by a survey made by George R. Stuntz, a government surveyor, in 1852, and in 1853 a syndicate of capitalists, at the head of which was William Wilson Corcoran, the wealthy Washington banker, associated with whom were Senators Stephen A. Douglas (from whom the county was named), R. M. T. Hunter and J. B. Bright, Ex-Senator Robert J. Walker, Congressmen John C. Breckinridge and John L. Dawson, and others, largely Southern politicians and members of Congress, bought lands here and platted a town which was named Superior. The proprietors secured in 1856 the construction of a military road to St Paul, Minnesota, 160 m. long. The town grew rapidly, and in 1856-1857 had about 2500 inhabitants. The panic of 1857 interrupted its growth, and the population dwindled so that in 1860 there were only a few hundred settlers on the town-site. The Civil War increased the depression, and the lands of those who had taken part against the Union were confiscated. In 1862 a series of stockades was built as a protection from the Indians. Within the area under the government of the town of Superior, which was at first co-extensive with the county, West Superior was platted in 1883 and South Superior soon afterwards. A village government was established in September 1887, including the three settlements mentioned, and in April 1889 Superior was chartered as a city. The harbour was surveyed in 1823-1825 by Lieut. Henry Wolsey Bayfield (1795-1885) of the British Navy. In 1860-1861 it was resurveyed by Captain George G. Meade, who was engaged in the work at the outbreak of the Civil War. A branch of the Northern Pacific railway was built to Superior in 1881.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)