George Stuntz

George Stuntz. (Duluth Public Library)

Superior and Duluth pioneer George Stuntz was born in Erie County, Pennsylvania, on December 11, 1820. By the mid-1840s he was working as a surveyor in Iowa. In 1852 he accepted a contract to survey at the head of Lake Superior. He settled first in Superior and surveyed Douglas County. In 1854 he moved across the bay and set up a dock and a  trading post on Minnesota Point, where he established mile marker zero and began surveying what would become Duluth and most of St. Louis County (the 1858 Minnesota Point Lighthouse sits atop the marker). He surveyed the Vermilion Trail from Duluth to Lake Vermilion in the late 1860s—and also built the road. It was said he was instrumental in the effort to interest Jay Cooke in the region and “knew of the presence of mineral wealth…before any of the pioneer explorers for iron began seriously to prospect.” Some credit him for the discovery of the Vermilion Iron Range, Stuntz died October 23, 1902, at the Red Cross Hospital in West Duluth after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 82. The Iron Range Township of Stuntz was named for him; Hibbing annexed the township in 1979.

Story by Tony Dierckins. Originally published on Zenith City Online (2012–2017). Click here for more stories by Tony Dierckins.