February 11, 1891: Creation of the Duluth, Missabe, & Northern Railroad

On this day in Duluth in 1891, the state of Minnesota approved a charter creating the Duluth, Missabe, & Northern Railroad, organized by five members of Oneota’s Merritt family led by Alfred Merritt along with J. T. Hale, K. D. Chase, R. H. Palmer and S. R. Payne. The authorized capital was $5,000,000, and the officers included K. D. Chase, president; S. R. Payne, secretary, and C. C. Merritt, treasurer. The railroad would be necessary to haul iron ore from their mine on the Missabe Iron Range at Mountain Iron to the ore dock they were constructing in West Duluth. The group borrowed heavily to open the mine, build the railroad, and and construct the dock, and they were forced to partner with J. D. Rockefeller to stay afloat; after the Panic of 1893 set them back even further, Rockefeller took control all of their interests, including the DM&N. The railroad continued under Rockefeller, but all the property eventually became part of United States Steel. In 1938 the DM&R and Interstate Transfer Railway merged with the Duluth & Iron Range Railroad and the Spirit Lake Transfer Railway to form the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway.

The Lewis & Hepzibah Merritt Family. (Image: Grant Merritt)