Early Settlement: Duluth’s Namesake and Early Beginnings

Daniel Greysolon, or Sierur du Lhut, was a French Aristocrat of the late 17th century. As a maritime captain for Louis XIV, he migrated to Montreal and in 1678 led a party into the wilderness hoping to discover the Northwest Passage, a rumored route to the Pacific and the Orient. While failing at this, he did convince the Chippewa, Sioux and other tribes to recognize the authority of Louis IVX and cease their battles. This agreement occurred in the place that is now the city that bears his name. Du Lhut continued his military career, which included mapping a trade route from the Mississippi and Lake Superior, until 1707. He is considered the first white man to reach the western extremity of the Great Lakes.

American Fur Company – Beaver Pelts

The fashionable beaver hats worn by European gentlemen was the main force pushing exploration and settlement in northern Minnesota. In 1792 a small fort was built at the Head of the Lakes to carry on the fur trade between the northern wilderness and the beaver pelt markets of Europe. The American Fur Company had a substantial station in Fond du Lac.

1839- Fashionable Europeans began to prefer silk hats to beaver ones and the loss of pelt markets devastated the economy and well being of the Lake Superior settlements. In 1847 the Fond du Lac fur station closed.

Copper- A “New” Industry

Copper mining was an activity that dated back thousands of years in the region. Indian tales of copper were shared with the first Frenchman who entered the region and copper signs and traces were commented on by many early white explorers. On Isle Royale and the Keweenaw Peninsula, major copper mines were built in the 1840’s.

In 1849 Minnesota became an official United States Territory.