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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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American Steel: 1910

American Steel: 1910

Cleveland, Ohio, circa 1910. "American Steel & Wire Co. plant." Your assignment: Create a diorama of this scene using toothpicks, cotton batting, string and cardboard. Panorama made from two 8x10 glass negatives. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

H C Frick Coke Co. Boxcars

This was the company that belonged to Henry Clay Frick, who as chairman of the Carnegie Steel company was a integral part of the famous 1892 Homestead Steel Strike. As a result of his actions, he was dubbed "The Most Hated Man in America"


The carrier shown above on the Cuyahoga River is the S.S. Onoko, which found fame as both the world's first iron-hull bulk freighter and as the Great Lakes' largest vessel. Launched on February 16, 1882, at the yards of the Globe Iron Works in Cleveland for a group of investors led by Phillip Minch, great-grandfather of the late George Steinbrenner. At over 300 feet in length, the Onoko established a number of cargo-carrying records in the ore, wheat, and corn trades, and became the paradigm upon which virtually all subsequent Great Lakes freighters would be based. Her end came on September 14, 1915, when, just seven miles out of Duluth with a wheat cargo bound for Toledo, the Onoko sprang a leak on Lake Superior, the flood of icy water causing her boiler to explode. The ship's pumps unable to keep pace, she was abandoned by her crew, who were taken aboard the Standard Oil tanker Renown. A view of the Onoko's final minutes:

Stmr. Onoko

Washington Post, Jun 6, 1905.

Great Lake Cargoes.

Immense Growth of Steamers on the Lakes Amounts to a Revolution.

From the Cleveland Leader.
The first cargo of the new steamship E.H. Gary, the record freighter of the Lakes, exceeds the greatest load ever before carried on these inland seas by almost as many tons as any Lake vessel had ever floated twenty-five years ago. It was in 1881 that the Onoko, a steamer built and owned in Cleveland, brought down the first load which reached the 3,000-ton limit. Now the record is placed at over 13,440 tons.

In the twenty-four years the increase in the largest Lake cargo has been nearly 400 per cent. Taking due account of the time required to handle freight at docks and the average speed of heavy vessels between terminals, it is safe to say that one steamer like the E.H. Gary is equal to six such as the Onoko, the latter was a famous and very profitable boat for many years. The rate of progress indicated by such facts is little less than revolution in the business of the Lakes. It is a development rare even in this age and country.

American capacity for handling immense traffic is nowhere more strikingly illustrated than it has been in the traffic which has been built up largely by Cleveland men and Cleveland money, on the most remarkable chain of inland waterways in the world.

Coal Age, 1913.

Coal Shipping on the Great Lakes

by J.W. Chamberlain

The first big revolution of bulk-freight carrying on the lakes came with the steamer "Onoko" in 1882, built of iron. Though not the first metal craft on the lakes, it had such an enormous capacity as compared with most wooden vessels that there was a rush for this new type. Older metal crafts had solved few problems, the first of them being the "Merchant," built in Buffalo in 1862. The "Onoko" merely showed the new possibilities in the size; she had two decks and the old-style stanchions to interfere with bulk-freight handling. ... Steamers of this class were derisively called "tin pans" and it was predicted that they would collapse in stress of weather. They did not, however, and soon a further step was taken, all in the interest of less obstructed holds to facilitate unloading bulk freight.

The ABC of Iron and Steel, 1915.

Transportation of Ore on the Great Lakes

By Ralph D. Williams

In 1882, a departure from the use of wood as ship-building material was made by the construction of the steamer Onoko, at the Globe Iron Works, Cleveland, of iron. The Onoko was 287 feet long and 38 feet beam, and was for the time being the largest deadweight carrier on the lakes. In 1886 the first steel bulk freighter was built on the lakes — the Spokane, for the Wilson Transit Co., at the yard of the Globe Iron Works, Cleveland. Steel speedily became thereafter the only material used in the construction of bulk freighters.

My Project

Upon presentation of my assignment, is kerosene an acceptable liquid to represent the Cuyahoga?

[Yes! We will also allow the use of Popsicle sticks or tongue depressors. - Dave]

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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