Union Match (through 1910)

Built as Marinette Iron Works in 1890, this buulding served Duluth as the home of Union Match and Chun King Foods. (Image: Duluth Public Library.)

The Union Match Company, of Duluth, is one of the largest, if not the very largest, independent match factories in the United States. Its daily product will run from 45,000,000 to 50,000,000 matches. The company has a magnificently equipped plant covering seven acres of ground, where over 3,000,000 feet of white pine is manufactured into matches annually, giving employment to over 150 hands. The company has a complete match factory under one roof, where are manufactured the match blocks from the best white pine that grows. When the logs are received they are scaled, sawed. planed and cut into four-foot lengths.

Then the sawyers cut them up into the regulated sizes. The blocks are then carried to the assorters, where they are assorted and inspected to make sure there are no defects in the blocks, and then the blocks are ready for resawing into matches. The making of matches is a most interesting process, from the white pine log to the delicate, artistically shaped match with its tip of illuminate that only requires a light touch to ignite it into a beautiful white light. The matches produced by the company are of superior quality, as the matches are non-explosive and free from odor. The company sells its product all over the United States and gives employment to two score traveling salesmen. The officers of the company are: M. H. Alworth, president; F. W. Heimick, vice-president and treasurer; John B. Heimick, secretary.

The Northern Shoe Company, of Duluth, is one of the city’s manufacturing industries which has made the most phenomenal advancement since its start. In 1907 the company erected the building in which it is now housed, which it occupies as a factory and sales house. The new plant cost $125,000, is eight stories high, and occupies a ground space of 100×115 feet. The building is equipped with every modern device known to builders and manufacturers, whether in the matter of heating, lighting, ventilating or machinery used in the manufacture of boots and shoes. Each of the eight floors is connected by two elevators, with toilet and cloak rooms on each floor, and the whole building is equipped with automatic sprinklers for fire protection.

The entire plant represents one of the largest of its kind operated under one roof in the Northwest. One of the leading features of the plant is the ease with which freight is loaded and unloaded inside of the building, besides the trackage and dock facilities for receiving and shipping goods from its own railroad platforms by rail, and by lake freighters from its own dock in the rear. In 1905 the business of the company amounted to about 600 pairs of shoes a day, and tie plant gave employment to 200 hands. The product of the company now amounts to 1.500 pairs a day and employment is given to 400 skilled boot and shoe makers. The yearly sales of the company are well over the million mark and its product is favorably known in every northwestern state as far as the Pacific coast. The officers of the company are: A. W. Hartman, president; O. C. Hartman, vice-president; George L. Hargreaves, secretary; L. D. Stickles, treasurer and general manager; J. R. Bell, assistant treasurer. These, with J. L. Washburn, constitute the board of directors.


  • Woodbridge, Dwight and John Pardee, eds. History of Duluth and St. Louis County Past and Present Vols. 1 – 2. C. F. Cooper & Company, Chicago: 1922.
  • Menu