Yes the Salt Lake Whale is the weirdest of the bunch but there are Several Oddities on cities/graphics:
Atlanta is know for it's burning Phoenix? huh? Are we really going with a mythological bird (X-man) for Atlanta getting razed for being on the wrong side of the Civil War? Pretty deep for a 6 year old.
Kansas City is infamous for it's bear fountain? never heard of that from history class, but on a map right next to them is St. Louis and it's super famous Arch.
I guess all Winnipeg has going for it is a beaver.
Probably the reason for all these strange symbols is that the cities must be distinguishable enough for somebody without reading skills being able to play the game.
The lift Bridge is pretty big deal in Duluth, but Duluth really? 80K on in this small city with 3.5 Million people sitting right next it on a map affectionately called the Twin Cities.
Alan Moon has a thing for Duluth, he has stated elsewhere. He aims to include it on every possible Ticket to Ride map. (I think the reason is what happened on original TtR, many years ago, where Duluth was put in the wrong position.) Pretty fun, actually!