While searching easy, cheap ways to get to Duluth from Chicago (there seem to be none, FWIW), I stumbled across this great article from The New York Times, circa June 9, 1888, that details the struggle between Duluth and Chicago to be the great train and shipping center of the Great Lakes. Essentially, they tell us, Duluth is the right choice as its trip will be an easier one to New York.
"The odds are 400 to 150 in favor of Duluth. Chicago and its great railways may as well face the truth first at last. They are handicapped in nature, and Chicago is in a measure sidetracked."
Ah, how I love my city's history. And how I love how New York has always believed itself to be the center of everything.
[The pic, btw, is of the 1888 Chicago White Stockings.]