June 20, 1882: David T. Adams, pioneer of the Mesabi Iron Range, Arrives in Duluth

On this day in Duluth in 1882, David Tugaw Adams arrived in town from Michigan, where he had been exploring for iron ore. He soon went north and began speculating in the Vermillion Iron Range, opened in 1883 by Charlemagne Tower. Adams was the first to “conceived the idea of the existence of a vast iron range south of and paralleling the Vermillion.” That range, of course, was the Mesabi, which the Merritt family developed. Once in Duluth, one biographer wrote, “no one was so personally prominent in discovering and bringing to development the great iron wealth of northeastern Minnesota…. Considering all the results accruing from his work, it may be said with little fear of contradiction that no single individual contributed more toward bringing about the phenomenal changes which took place on the Range during the early years of the nineties than Mr. Adams. To Mr. Adams is due not only the locating and development of a number of the richest iron mines of the Mesaba Range, but the building of the cities of Virginia and Eveleth, two of the most prosperous towns upon the Range.” Adams not only platted Virginia and Eveleth himself (Eveleth’s Adams Avenue is named for him), but also created the first map of Duluth’s Mesabi Range, published in 1893, the same year he incorporated the Adams Mining Company.

David T. Adams. (Duluth Public Library)