Otto Swanstrom

Otto Swanstrom. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

Twenty years ago Otto Swanstrom was putting in busy days between anvil and forge and performing all the work of a blacksmith in a shop at Duluth. Today he is president and active head of a half million dollar corporation, known as the Diamond Calk and Horseshoe Company, founded and developed primarily to manufacture some special articles invented by Mr. Swanstrom as a result of his experience as a blacksmith and horseshoer, but now expanded into a large factory and industry manufacturing a varied line of machinery and drop forge products.

Mr. Swanstrom was born in Sweden July 11, 1874, and acquired his early education in the common schools of his native land, later attending night school after coming to America. He came to this country in 1889, at the age of fifteen, accompanying his brother, Nels Swanstrom. His brother soon located in Duluth, where he learned and followed the harnessmaking trade.

Mr. Swanstrom continued blacksmithing until 1900, when he began the manufacture of horseshoes and horseshoe calks, according to special designs perfected by himself. For this manufacture he incorporated the Giant Grip Horse Shoe Company of Duluth. He served as president of the corporation until 1906, his factory having in the meantime, in 1903, been removed from Duluth to Little Falls, Minnesota. After selling his interests in the Giant Grip Horse Shoe Company in 1906 Mr. Swanstrom engaged in a new enterprise, for the manufacture of his invented and patented horseshoes and calks, and in 1908 incorporated the Diamond Calk Horseshoe Company, now known as the Diamond Calk and Horseshoe Company. Associated with him in the organization were E. C.

Peterson, who became vice president, and Al De Vohn, secretary and treasurer, Mr. Swanstrom being president. The business was incorporated for ten thousand dollars. and the first factory was at 501 Lake Avenue, South. The men at the head of the business were practical, had a special purpose and knew what they were going to do, and were not concerned so much about activities and operations that would constitute a big display. In fact, they started business as small as it was possible to begin, and the first year only two men were employed. Then, in ‘1910, they built a new factory at 4630 West Third street, a one-story building equipped with modern machinery. Since then from year to year there has been almost a continuous record of expansion and growth. Now the Diamond Calk and Horseshoe Company employs about one hundred fifty people, has a pay roll of nearly two hundred thousand dollars a year, and the business is incorporated for five hundred thousand dollars. The factory is on ground covering a little more than a square city block. Besides the Diamond calks apd horseshoes the company has added other lines of manufacture, including drop-forged railroad supplies, a full line of wrenches, and do much other work possible in a modern and well equipped drop forging plant.

Otto Swanstrom. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

Of this prosperous and promising Duluth industry Mr. Swanstrom is still president; L. T. Peterson is vice president, Al De Vohn, secretary and treasurer; E. C. Peterson is second vice president and Frank Swanstrom, third vice president. Mr. Swanstrom is a member of the Lutheran Church and a Republican voter.

June 24, 1899, he married Miss Sarah Amelia Lindberg. She was born in Minnesota of Swedish parentage, who came to America as children.

She was educated in the public schools of Duluth. They have two children, a daughter, Gladys Irene Swanstrom, born July 24, 1900, and a son, Arthur Raymond Swanstrom, born August 2, 1901. Both children are now students in the Duluth High School.


  • Van Brunt, Walter, ed. Duluth and St. Louis County, Minnesota Vols. 1 – 3. The American Historical Society. Chicago: 1922.
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