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Cleveland was a tiny town in 1825, the year the Ohio Canal was started, and the canal, completed to Akron in 1827 and to Portsmouth on the Ohio River in 1832, was the principal early avenue of trade. At that time the Cuyahoga River was more important as the terminus of the canal than as a lake harbor. But there were several struggling iron foundries in Cleveland-John Ballard started one in 1828- and there was a brisk trade in coal via the canal. Both coal and ore shipping received tremendous boosts in the ‘50s-boosts which presaged the subsequent installation of the enormous handling facilities for which the city is now famous.

In 1852, Chisholm, Jones & co. (now American Steel

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& Wire) and the Otis Steel Co. (now Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.) were formed, the latter on Whiskey Island at the mouth of the Cuyahoga. The next year the waterfront was first used as a harbor and in 1854, ore totaling 2,544 tons was shipped from the Marquette Range. The procedure was laborious, however, since cargoes had to be portaged by wagon around the Soo Rapids. Then in 1855 came the real impetus to the upper lakes traffic, as the canal was opened joining Lakes Superior and Huron. The Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad -- originally chartered in 1836, rechartered in 1845, and opened from Cleveland to Hudson in 1851 -- hauled 1,027 tons of ore from the docks in 1855. The next year the Bessemer process of blasting preheated air through fluid pig iron marked a milestone in steelmaking and Cleveland’s Chisholm, Jones & Co. was quick to adopt it. The stage was being set for really significant progress.

Coincident with these developments in shipping iron ore into Cleveland, the movement of coal to the city for

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transport back up the lakes began to take place. The two trades have since become inseparable. Freighters that now bring ore to the docks take away cargoes of coal, while railroad cars coming to Cleveland with coal turn around and take ore to inland furnaces. For some time after the Cleveland & Pittsburgh began operating, one or two cars of coal would be hauled in the daily freight trains. Then one day in the early ‘50s, according to the record of a veteran C & P employe, "it became noised that a whole train of coal was to be hauled into Cleveland. On the afternoon of the expected arrival a crowd of some four or five hundred people wended their way on foot and in lumber wagons out on St. Clair Street. About four o’clock the train arrived...consisting of ten flat cars, each car containing not more than 20,000 pounds, one hundred ton in all...and what cheers rent the air! With what enthusiasm this remarkable train was inspected! After considerable persuasion, John Durand, then superintendent, made a speech...(He) promised that if backed up

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by the Board of three months they would be able to run in this amount of coal (100 tons) daily...The advent of this first coal train very soon taught our railroad officials that coal, not wood must be the fuel of the future."

By 1866, when the iron ore reaching Cleveland was valued at $1,179,200 and coal shipments had reached 465,550 tons yearly, the wooden ships of the day were carrying almost 400 tons of ore apiece. Whereas the ore had formerly been carried on the main deck, shipmasters were now starting to lower it into holds. And the volume of business was growing so rapidly that the Cleveland & Pittsburgh decided it was time for new handling methods.

In 1867 and 1868, special unloading facilities were installed on Whiskey Island, on what was then the east side of the Cuyahoga’s mouth. To replace the slow, burdensome 100-ton-a-day method of the hand shovel and wheelbarrow, steel drums sawed into halves-and later, iron tubs made speci-

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Wheelbarrow crews and smoking donkey engines provided
the power for the docks in the 1860’s.

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Aerial View of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Cleveland Ore Docks, 1946.
Steamer FINLAND Unloading.

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The storage bridge builds up reserve piles of ore for next
winter's steel. Steamer E. J. BERWIND unloading.

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ally for the purpose -- were lowered into the holds by means of ropes passed through "snatch blocks" in the ships’ rigging. After being filled by shovelers, the tubs were then pulled back up by horses on shore hitched to the ropes. The ore was dumped into wheelbarrows pushed along platforms above the railroad cars and was then spilled into the cars or into storage piles. Soon after, steam boilers and engines replaced horses as power for the block and tackle. With this "modern" equipment, the Cleveland & Pittsburgh docks handled 147,971 tons of ore in 1868.