October 16, 1857: Birth of Augustus B. Wolvin

On this day in 1857, future Duluthian Augustus B. Wolvin was born in Cleveland, Ohio. At just ten years old Wolvin became a cabin boy on the Great Lakes steamers, attending limited school in the winter when lake navigation was suspended. By 1878, the 21-year-old Wolvin was master of a vessel owned by the Winslow Brothers of Buffalo, New York. At 26 he quit the lakes for a while and went into the grocery business. But when he relocated to Duluth in 1888 he incorporated La Salle & Wolvin, a general vessel commission business. In 1895 he organized the Zenith Transit Company, which became part of the Pittsburgh Steamship Company in 1901. The company was formed by consolidating nearly all of the great lake’s shipping companies, creating a fleet of 112 vessels when first organized. Wolvin became vice-president and general manager of the organization until 1904, when he organized the Zenith Furnace Company. In 1902 he commissioned John J. Wangenstein to design the Wolvin Building at 227 West First Street, now known as the Missabe Building.

A sketch of Captain August B. Wolvin made ca. 1910. (Image: Duluth Public Library)