January 14, 1913: The DM&N Railroad announces new ore dock

On this day in Duluth in 1913, William McGonagle, president of the Duluth, Missabe & Northern Railroad, announced that his company would soon hire a contractor to build the world’s largest ore dock next to existing ore docks standing west of Thirty-Third Avenue West. The first West Duluth ore dock, made of wood, was completed 1893 and was the largest in the world when completed. By 1906 three more wooden docks had gone up west of the first, and each was also the largest in the world when completed. Dock #4, the last wooden ore dock ever built was therefore also the largest wooden ore dock ever built. Dock #5 would be larger, but it was made of steel and concrete—a whole lot of steel and concrete. McGonagle estimated it would 22,000 tons of steel and 30,000 barrels of cement to construct the dock, with costs expected to reach $2.9 million. Before the month was out Whitney Brothers of Superior began driving some of the 14,500 piles and 5,000 steel sheets that would help form the dock’s foundation, and Bates & Rodgers Construction began pouring 25,000 cubic yards of concrete. When complete, Dock #5 stretched about 300 feet into the bay. Its 384 pockets could hold 115,200 tons of iron ore at one time. Tom make the bay deep i=enough to float ore boats loaded with iron, dredgers had to remove 500,000 cubic yards of silt from the bottom of the bay next to the dock. Four years later Dock #6—the largest steel ore dock the world had ever seen—was built on the same site as Dock #1, which was disassembled. Today only docks #5 and #6 remain standing, and only Dock #6 still operates as an ore dock. Read more about Duluth’s historic ore docks here.

The DM&IR ore docks in Duluth c. 1915. (Image: Duluth Public Library)