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Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company - GLMS 62

Introduction | Organizational History | Scope and Content | Series Description | Inventory


The Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company collection was transferred to the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes on June 23, 1981. The Instrument of Gift was signed July 6, 1981.

Literary and property rights have been donated to the public and duplication is permitted for the purposes of preservation and research.  Final processing was completed in September 1991 by Mark J. Barnes and Monica Manny with the assistance of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant.

Organizational History

The Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company, based in Cleveland, Ohio, was formed in November 1847 as the Cleveland Iron Mining Company. The firm was incorporated by Samuel L. Mather, John Outhwaite, Morgan L. Hewitt, S. Chamberlain, Isaac L. Hewitt, Henry F. Brayton, and E. M. Clark. The company was chartered by the Michigan legislature in April 1850 and began operations on land in the Marquette Iron District bordering on Lake Superior in Marquette County, Michigan.

Utilizing the canal at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan after 1855, the Cleveland-Cliffs Company experienced rapid growth in production and shipping capacity. The demand for ore during the Civil War led mine owners to use soft ores as well as the hard variety to meet industrial requirements. The level of 100,000 tons produced per year was reached in 1868 and had doubled by 1880. Open pit mining was supplemented in the 1880s by underground operations spurred by new mining technology.

As Cleveland-Cliffs grew, several smaller companies were acquired. In 1890 the Cliffs Iron Company was purchased. The name Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company resulted from this transaction. By the outbreak of World War I twenty-nine mines were operated by Cleveland-Cliffs in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The guiding hand of William G. Mather, son of founder Samuel L. Mather, directed the company from 1890 through World War II. Mather began work for Cleveland-Cliffs as a clerk in 1878. He became a Vice President in 1885 and served as President for the years 1890-1933. From 1933 to 1947 Mather was Chairman of the Board.

The post-World War II era has seen Cleveland-Cliffs become an international corporation with diverse interests in mining, energy and timber. More than 300,000 acres of timberland are owned by the company in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Oil drilling operations in Louisiana and Texas are also owned by Cleveland-Cliffs. The Robe River Mine in Western Australia is managed through the subsidiary Cliffs Western Australia Mining company. With over 140 years of experience, the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company remains a principal feature in the economic history of the Great Lakes Region.

Scope and Content

The Cleveland-Cliffs collection is heavily oriented to discussion in the period 1935-1981 of extending the Great Lakes shipping season through the customary winter lay-up period. Subject files, log books, symposium papers and news clippings offer a number of perspectives on the movement among shipping companies toward longer navigation seasons. The collection contains two cubic feet of files for examination. Photographic materials (104 items) have been separated for cataloging in the main Institute photograph files. Many of these photographs record ice conditions at various Great Lakes ports. Printed materials have also been separated from the collection for inclusion in the main catalog.

Series Description


Box 1
Series contains one cubic foot of correspondence, reports, clippings, blueprints, and note cards arranged in subject order. One item from 1912 is present, however, the principal date span is 1935-1980. The largest portions of the file are concerned with extending the navigation season on the Great Lakes further into the winter with improved ice breaking vessels. Another feature of interest is the set of note cards filed under Lifesaving Drill that describes the individual crew member responsibilities in handling passenger transfers into lifeboats.


Box 2
Series contains one-fourth cubic foot of Fuel, Lay-up and Winter Log books for the SS CADILLAC from 1944-1948, 1972-1973, adn 1976-1981. Recorded are quantities of fuel used on trips, amounts used between particular locations on the trips, time elapsed for each trip and propeller revolutions per trip in the Fuel Logs. The Lay-up Log records maintenance work performed during the winter lay-up periods. The Water Log records tonnage of water in the bottom and side ballast tanks.


Box 2
Series contains 0.25 cubic feet of conference/symposium papers, speeches, and remarks for 1963-1964, 1969-1975. The subject of expanded shipping seasons on the Great Lakes is heavily represented here.


Box 3
Series contains 0.5 cubic feet of clippings on Great Lakes shipping issues. The files date from the years ca. 1960-1976. Of particular interest are the clippings on the 1969 voyage of the MANHATTAN from Philadelphia to the Alaskan north slope by way of the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic. The MANHATTAN was a newly designed ice breaking vessel.


Box 1


1. Annual Inspection: Dry Docking, 1948, 1954-1947, 1962-1967
2. Annual Reports, 1958-1975
3. SS CADILLAC, 1966, 1981, n.d.
4-7.SS CHAMPLAIN: Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Co. Marine Division Operations/Policy Manual, 1973-1976
8. Channel Tank tops, 1951
9. Damage Reports, 1978
10-13. Extended Shipping Season, 1970-1974
14. Fit-out requirements, 1979-1981
15. Great Lakes Commission, 1975
16-22. Ice Breaking, 1954-1973
23-25. Intergovernmental Marine Consultative Organization, 1978-1980, n.d.
26-27. Lifesaving Drills, ca. 1955-1965
28. Lorain, Ohio Harbor Study, 1981
29. SS MADISON, 1959-1975
30. national Environmental Research Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, ca. 1969-1975
31-33. Pollution, 1912, 1951, 1963-1965, 1968, 1970-1976, n.d.
34. USA v. Reserve Mining Company, 1973-1975, n.d.
35. Vessel Officer's Meetings, 1980
36-38. Winter Navigation Board, 1973-1974

Box 2


1-3. Fuel Log, SS CADILLAC, 1976-1981
4. Lay-up Log, SS CADILLAC, 1944-1948
5. Water and Fuel Log, SS CADILLAC, 1972-1973
6-10. Papers/Remarks/Speeches, 1963-1964, 1969-1975

Box 3: Clippings


  1. undated
  2. 1963, 1968-1973
  3. 1974-1976
  4. Address Book with Business Cards, ca. 1960s-1970s
  5. MANHATTAN voyage, May-September 1969
  6. MANHATTAN voyage, October 1969-October 1970, n.d.

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