The December 2010 edition of Duluth’s The Senior Reporter includes a north country history story relating the adventures of George G. Barnum. The article also includes pictures of stage coaches and land surveying around 1870, a picture of the exterior and interior of the Duluth Board of Trade, an aerial picture of Duluth’s grain mill center and a recent picture of Mr. Barnum’s home which is now The Firelight Inn on Oregon Creek Bed and Breakfast.
There are stories in this article that even the keepers of the history of the mansion weren’t aware of. Historian Rachael Martin describes a challenge in 1868 that Mr. Barnum met when he took his first trip to Duluth by wagon. He was then gathering data for a survey to build the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad. George Barnum came to blows with the wagon driver on the trip. He had paid $75 for a stagecoach ticket but on the second day while leaving out of Wyoming, MN the stagecoach was replaced with an open wagon for the rest of the trip. The wagon got stuck in deep mud and Barnum helped free the wagon. At Kettle River, Barnum’s space on the wagon got replaced with freight going to Superior, WI. The story relates the driver refused to unload the freight to give Barnum his seat, so Barnum took the freight off the wagon himself. The driver then produced a blacksnake whip and began lashing Barnum. Martin tells the story as if she was on location–Barnum overtook the driver and got his seat back for the rest of the trip to Duluth!
We weren’t aware of the adventure even surrounding Mr. Barnum’s death in 1936. He was at his summer home on Isle Royale when a boat trip around the island was interrupted by a storm. Barnum took refuge from the heavy waves at the Belle Isle resort and rented a cabin for the night. At 11 p.m. that evening Barnum missed a step at the cabin door and fell, fracturing his hip. He waited until the fishing boat, Winyah, arrived 36 hours later to take him to a hospital in Duluth. He died 10 days later.
The article also includes a picture of Mr. George G. Barnum’s home built in 1910 which is 100 years old this year. The 17-room mansion boasts wood beamed ceilings, a glass-enclosed wraparound front porch and 12 fireplaces.
Thank you Ms. Martin for all the details of this wonderful man. We are proud to be the keepers of his home and history.
Joy and Jim Fischer, Innkeepers/Owners
Celebrating 100 years of history in 2010