Faces of Duluth: The Depot’s Hailey Eidenschink

Heidi stands in front of The Depot

Faces of Duluth tells the stories of the people behind Duluth’s iconic attractions, hidden gems, and everything in between. Traveling to Duluth? Learn the locals’ tips and tricks for seeing all the city has to offer.

If the walls could talk in the St. Louis County Depot, they would have a lot to say. The Depot has seen plenty in its 130 years – from its beginnings as the “Ellis Island” of Northeastern Minnesota for immigrants traveling by train, to soldiers leaving for Europe in WWI and WWII, to now serving as the city’s hub of arts, history and culture. 

Signs of days gone by still linger in the Depot’s sandstone walls, original tile floors and iron railings – and maybe even some spirits.

While the walls can’t talk, it’s lucky for us there is Hailey Eidenschink, The Depot’s Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development & Cultural Coordinator. Hailey helps bring the past to life and leads the Haunted History Tours every October. We chatted with her to learn more about her background, her favorite Duluth spots, and if she considers herself “a believer” in ghosts.

What’s your Duluth story?

I actually didn’t ever plan on ending up in Duluth. When I was making my college plan, I’d applied to the main U of M campus and was fully bent on going to school in the big city. Long story short, I ended up being a Bulldog instead of a Gopher, and I’ve been living as a Duluthian since 2015.  

What do you love about Duluth?

There’s a lot to love about this city, but my favorite thing is probably all the historic architecture. I’m a big history nerd, so I love to see old structures so full of life.

How did you get into your line of work?

I’ve known that I wanted to work in a museum for a long time, and I was lucky enough to end up in UMD’s History department right after they launched their Museum Studies program. We were required to do museum internships as part of the program, and after a tour of The Depot, I applied to intern at the St. Louis County Historical Society. I bopped around as an intern, volunteer, employee, and then I made the leap from The Society into The Depot’s management office.

What is your role at the St. Louis County Depot?

My full title is Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development & Cultural Coordinator. Kind of a mouthful. But basically, my position is to act as an educator focusing on the history and culture of our region and let the rest of Minnesota know that we’ve got some pretty spectacular stories to share.

What do you love about working at The Depot?

I love getting to act as an ambassador of the space. I’m very passionate about the preservation of our historic structures, and our building stands as an example of what can be accomplished when a community comes together to save a property on the brink of destruction. It’s been a lot of work over many years, but when I hear someone whisper “wow,” under their breath as they walk into the great hall, I know the fight to keep this place standing was worth it.

OK now let’s talk ghosts – what can guests expect during the Haunted History Tour?

The Haunted History Tours are some of my absolute favorite tours to give, so expect to see a very excited tour guide. In addition, guests will get some building history, stories of staff encounters and maybe even stories of their own. It’s part paranormal investigation and part Depot history tour. Plus, what’s bound to be a group of interesting people you can get to know. Basically, I’ve created the tour that I’d want to attend.  

Have you had any “encounters” yourself?

I’ve had lights turned off on me, seen things that I can’t be sure of and heard things that I can’t explain. I’m fascinated by the idea of the paranormal, but I’m also a bit of a skeptic. I want to believe, but I’m also horrified at the prospect of seeing something that makes me certain that ghosts are real.

What do you love about Duluth in the fall/Halloween season?

I’m a huge horror fan, so I love going to see new movies and old screenings across town. I grew up in a town without a movie theater, so I feel pretty spoiled with all of the theater choices in Duluth.

What do you enjoy doing in Duluth, both outside and when it comes to enjoying food/beverages, events, etc.?

I’m a big trivia fan, and I’m part of a group of regulars at Duluth Cider and Blacklist Brewing for their trivia nights. When it comes to food, I’m a vegetarian with celiacs (hi, yes, I’m the worst person to try to eat with), and Pizza Lucé always has great options for me as well as the people I’m with who don’t have digestive systems primed to self-destruct.

What are some of your favorite things to do with guests from out of town?

I bring my parents to Duluth Cider, my friends to Jade Fountain Cocktail Lounge and my sister to one of the historic cemeteries in town. Never underestimate your local graveyard when looking for a scenic walk with nice, paved paths!

Anything else you’d like to add?

I was lucky enough to get to work with Mike Scholtz and Steve Ash on the WDSE-WRPT digital series Minnesota Historia. The series is about quirky history in our region, and the first season is on available for free online. Check it out!!

Posted on October 14, 2022