During the summer of 1823, Giacomo Beltrami, an Italian aristocrat and an inquisitive traveler, hoped to find fame and notoriety by identifying the northernmost headwaters of the Mississippi River. He planned to name the place for his friend Giulia back home in present day Italy.
As a passenger on the first steamship to head so far north up the Mississippi River, Beltrami arrived at Fort St Anthony and met Major Stephen Long, who he joined on a surveying expedition down the Red River to the present-day US/Canada border.
Some members of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe tried to help by showing him where to go, but, ultimately, Beltrami misidentified the real source of the river. He was about 50 miles off. “Man with the Red Umbrella,” from KFAI’s John Gwinn, tells the story of Beltrami’s misdirected travels. Editing by Mason Butler.