In May 2006, the City of Duluth designated a cultural pathway in honor of Duluth’s native son, Bob Dylan, to commemorate his 65th birthday. The 1.8 mile Bob Dylan Way winds through Duluth’s downtown, extending from Michigan Street at 5th Avenue West to 14th Avenue East and London Road (Historic Highway 61).
In 2011 on Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday, two Dylan-themed manhole covers were installed along this route. The first is located at the intersection of Bob Dylan Way (Michigan Street at this point) and Fifth Avenue East. Designed by Laurel Sanders, the concept was derived from Dylan’s song “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”
The second manhole cover, designed by Marc Zapchenk of Shoreview, was placed on the sidewalk in front of the Fitger’s Brewery complex. Zapchenk’s design utilizes two guitars drawn like a yin and yang symbol with the inscription, “Bob Dylan Way, Duluth Minnesota.”
The following year a third manhole cover, designed by graphic artist Heidie Geyer, was installed near the corner of the Historic Duluth Armory. Geyer’s artwork features a circle bisected with a harmonica, framed in a music scale filled with notes. It says “Bob Dylan Way” along the top and “Duluth Minnesota” along the bottom.
An interesting feature of the manhole cover project is that it involved more than just creating the designs themselves. It included the entire process of converting the art into molds and actually casting the manhole covers. The iron itself was cast using recycled radiators from Split Rock Lighthouse and the St. Louis County Courthouse. Materials sculptor David Asher Everett did the actual casting of each 170-pound disc in accordance with state safety regulations.