Erik K. Isaacson

Erik Isaacson serves in the Global War on Terror.

He serves in the U.S. Navy. He was the Commanding Officer for the Navy Operational Support Center in Duluth, Minnesota from April 2, 2005, until it closed in 2007.

Mr. Isaacson relates some of the history of the Naval Militia/Duluth Naval Reserve, which began in 1898, including the fact that in 1936, Naval reservists use their training boat to help fight a forest fire on Isle Royale, Minnesota.

Mr. Isaacson was raised in Houghton, Michigan.

Source: Interview with Mr. Isaacson (below)

Oral History Interview with
Commander Erik Isaacson, Commanding Officer for the Navy Operational Support Center in Duluth, Minnesota

Interviewed by
Daniel Hartman
Program Director of Veterans Memorial Hall

Transcribed by
Karin Swor
Program Assistant of Veterans Memorial Hall, on October 16, 2008

DH. This is Daniel Hartman doing an interview with the Commander—say it again, please.

EI. This is Commander Erik Isaacson

DH. Spell your last name, please.

EI. I-S-A-A-C-S-O-N, I am the Commanding Officer for the Navy Operational Support Center in Duluth, Minnesota. The last remaining Operational Support Center on Lake Superior at Marquette [, Michigan,] closed a year ago.

DH. Thank you for that, sorry, I know it is a long title. I want to get that on record, instead of making you say it three or four times.

EI. About a year ago, they changed the name from Naval Reserve Center to Navy Operational Support Center. The reason for that change was to clearly demonstrate that we are supporting the fleet; we are not an annuity on our own. Our sole mission is to provide sailors for fleet readiness to support the fleet: the U.S. Navy, the ships out there, the squadrons, the Seabees, that sort of thing. I have no Marines on board, so we are a Navy Operational Support Center.

DH. I am going to ask you a lot of questions that you know I already know, so that I have it on record. When did you actually first began serving in the Navy?

EI. I was commissioned on June 15, 1990.

DH. What was your interest, why did you join the Navy?

EI. I joined the Navy to fund an education at Northwestern University. They had an ROTC scholarship. Navy paid for my school.

DH. You had to have some interest in the Navy? What made you pick the Navy over something else?

EI. Honestly, it is because my Navy scholarship came through before my Air Force scholarship.

DH. OK. Thank you for the honesty. You get a lot of weird answers when you ask people.

EI. It was strictly to pay for an education, at this time.

DH. It wasn’t because of some major generational interest in your family from the past?

EI. No

DH. You said Air Force or the Navy, I take it there was no interest from the Army side?


DH. What was your reason for NO interest in the Army?

EI. I had been sailing, probably, since I was eight or nine years old, with my dad, on a small lake in Michigan.

DH. Is that where you grew up, then, I take it?

EI. Correct.

DH. Throughout your Navy career, you eventually became the Commander here in Duluth. Was that your first time in the Duluth area?

EI. I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, so I was familiar with the area. Went off and did my Navy tours in San Diego, Pensacola, Atlanta, and suddenly the opportunity came to be to come to Duluth, and this is roughly—this is about as close as you can get to the UP of Michigan without, and still be active duty. So it was quite an opportunity.

DH. A lot of the questions I am going to ask today are out of order, simply because there is just a whole gambit. As for Marquette closing, was that kind of an emotional thing for you, considering it was even closer to your home?

EI. That is an interesting one, because Marquette Navy Reserve Center or Operation Support Center is an offshoot of the Houghton Reserve Center, where I grew up. There used to be one in my hometown when I was growing up. That one was closed—I have no idea when, sometime probably in the 80’s—and moved all to Marquette, a bigger population and whatnot. So Marquette was the last remnants of the Houghton Navy Reserve Center, and that closed about a year ago.

DH. Did a lot of operations there move to the branch that you are currently at?

EI. No, most of it went to—I think all of it went to—Green Bay. The entire reserve that was serviced by Houghton and the whole Upper Peninsula of Michigan are now drilling down in the Green Bay area.

DH. Now I am going to ask you a little bit about the early history of the Navy Reserve and Militia up here. I know your knowledge is fairly limited, from what you have told me in the past. I will start with the real basic. What would you describe the role of the Militia as? What was the Militia? If someone asked you what is the difference between the Naval Militia and the Naval Reserve, what would you respond?

EI. Several things. My records indicate that in 1898 a group of sailors in the local area got together, and they had the early foundings of what they called the Naval Militia. Now, what their intent is, is a Naval Militia as part of the state government. There are some Naval Militia that still exist; there are state-supported Navy personal. Such as the difference between the Army, the U.S. Army, and the Army National Guard is that the Army National Guard is an Army Militia. The governor of the state governs them. The Naval Militia would have reported to the governor of the state of Minnesota.

DH. And for those few existing today, is that still true?

EI. They report to the state.

DH. What type of role did the old Militia take on? I read things, like them helping with forest fires?

EI. Correct. I have no idea what vessels they had. I have heard of the USS Essex, and the Gopher, they cruised around the western Lake Superior. I have read stories, like the Isle Royale fire; I didn’t brush up on it. There was also the fires that they combined with the Houghton, Michigan, reservists, or they received a ship out of there and proceeded to Isle Royale to put out the fire. There is several other fires that they assisted with that were on the coastline.

DH. Was the reserve base at Houghton, Michigan . . . was that originally a Militia base as well?

EI. I don’t know, I am not versed on that, the history of that. I am currently trying to get ahold of, I know of three personnel that are retirees that are in the Houghton area. One of which, I went to high school with his daughter, and I am trying to get more of a history from Houghton, Michigan. In addition, I am trying to hunt down something in Marquette, Michigan, which now would be in Green Bay, so I might have to go to Green Bay, find history about Marquette, and that would lead me to the history of Houghton, Michigan.

DH. This is an overall basic question: If I was looking for history on the Naval Militia, more in depth, who would be a good source? Would that be more like on the Federal level, or would that be local?

EI. Certainly, because of the nature of the Militia, I would say the state of Minnesota would have the documents on them.

DH. But there is, like, the federal Navy, they would not keep any records of the Militia then, so it would pretty much be left to the state to take the historic records of the Militia?

EI. Correct, this is a dead end door for you. I would have to think on that.

DH. Another question I have: I have come across several things talking about the canoe boat races. There have been many trophies for that. I am wondering, since the last time we talked, if you have heard any more to explain what they were and who took part in them?

EI. No idea. I had the trophy, you guys have it in custody now, and that is the extent of my knowledge on this.

DH. I have talked to most of the Paducah group now, and not a single one remembers the canoe boat races. I am getting a little worried about that.

EI. Have you found more than one source, other than the trophy itself?

DH. Yes, we found historic photos with the Minnesota Historical Society. Actually, photos of the men. It says “getting ready for the canoe boat races,” pretty much something to that effect.

EI. Whoa! What was the date?

DH. Militia era.

EI. Before 1949?

DH. Yes, so I will keep digging. I am sure we will find something eventually. Now, describe the role of the Duluth Navy Reserve from its beginning, like start around WWII era or afterward, and slowly progress it through to the modern era, from what little knowledge you might have in certain parts.

EI. Certainly. WWII brought to light: There is the USS Paducah; there is the whole story involved with that. The stories of the sailors out of St. Paul come from Duluth, that was the “first shot club,” a bunch of Navy reservists on the USS Ward, stationed out of Honolulu, Hawaii—was the first crew to see a submarine on the morning of December 7, [1941:] fired the first shot, sank the submarine, and subsequently been verified. Navy Reserve received funding in 1949, I think it was in the extent of $2.12 million, to build a facility on Park Point.

DH. But they had a facility, prior to that on Park Point, before, that but it was much smaller?

EI. That is correct—no, I think it was the Armory, the building that is being refurbished now. That was in my reclamation from talking with the Paducah crewmembers. The first origination of the Militia was that they were meeting at the Armory, in east.

DH. I heard that they trained at the Armory but they still actually had a base on Park Point, where the Coast Guard is today. It was two stories high. It was where the Commanding Officers did a lot of their office work, is what they said.

EI. Interesting, I had never heard that.

DH. I have heard that from three resources now.

EI. Now, is that Wisconsin Point, is that what they are referring to? Wisconsin Point is the point that is the very tip of Park Point, well, there is an opening but it is on the Wisconsin side. As of just maybe five to seven years ago, the Navy owned a facility there. It was the Naval Coastal Warfare Group. It was AD42, and they had a whole house and a facility on Wisconsin Point. I don’t know if you see the spit of land aside down from Minnesota, but you also have one coming down from Wisconsin. At the very tip of it was a Naval installation. This was up until recently.

DH. You said up until five to seven years ago? Now I know it is on the Minnesota side cause.

EI. I can get you more history on that.

DH. That would be interesting, too, because it is local. I am almost positive the one Paducah guy said it was where the Coast Guard is today, and that is obviously on the Minnesota side.

EI. Did the Coast Guard take over the Wisconsin Point address because this is the mouth of where half the ships come from?

DH. I can do more research. I have to now, for sure. But the $2.1 million facility—was that built on the Minnesota side?

EI. Correct. That was over by the Army Reserve and where the Alder is now. Some of the pictures I gave Milissa [Brooks-Ojibwe, Collections Manager, St. Louis County Historical Society] the other day have a very detailed picture of where it was located.

DH. Actually, one of the guys brought in a photo of the old base, with some of the ships next to it. I can show it to you later, if you like. Do you know much of the role of the reserve after 1949? Do you know what the peak was?—by the peak I mean when the most reservists were?

EI. The peak was in 1949; they estimated somewhere around 500 to 550 Navy reservists training in the Duluth area, which is a very large size.

DH. What is it today?

EI. Today, as of today, probably seventy to seventy-one.

DH. Is that lower than it was a year ago?

EI. You bet. When I showed up two years ago, I was in the 130 range. Subsequently, when I first checked in March—I took command April 2, 2005—by May 13, 2005, the BRAC [Base Realignment and Closure] Commission came up, and Duluth was going to close. At that point, my numbers have significantly decreased.

DH. Correct me if I am wrong: The BRAC Commission happened before you came. You arrived after the fact.

EI. They didn’t publish any results until May 13, 2005. The data was collected over a two-year period prior, to May 2005. They collected data on everything: demographics, collected data on cost, expenses, how much was the heating bill. A thousand different points of data was compiled into the Department of the Navy information database. It was all spreadsheet formats. The previous commander, Lt. Commander Van Moffet—he was my predecessor—he compiled all the data for the database that the BRAC Commission used to make the determinations.

DH. There was a spot for public hearing from the community?

EI. Correct. That didn’t happen ’til either June or July of ’05.

DH. So that was actually after?

EI. After the original hearings were out, the BRAC Commission came to Fargo, North Dakota, and that is where they gave the community of Duluth 30 minutes to state their case, or if they [wanted to make] contributions to what the findings of the BRAC Commission. Those are available on transcript on the Duluth BRAC web page.

DH. It is pretty easy to download for the general public?

EI. You bet. You can see the length of time that senators, mayors, and delegation that went there, all the community leaders. You can see the amount of time they put into Navy Reserve Duluth.

DH. Am I allowed to ask how much time was mentioned?

EI. I believe that maybe we had one sentence that we were mentioned of the whole 30 minutes.

DH. Do you remember what that mention was?

EI. The primary emphasis of the community were to support the 148th Fighter Wing, and nothing else was said with the Navy Reserve.

DH. I think it is pretty pathetic. I can move on to a little more positive note. Today, I imagine, the training is a little bit different than it was right after World War II.

EI. Significantly.

DH. That is an area that I imagine you know more about? Today’s modern reservists— what do you have to offer them? Is there still training out on Lake Superior?

EI. OK, if you look at the broad demographics of Navy Operational Support Centers throughout the country, our mission is to get sailors out to the fleet as much as possible, to go do what their Navy job is going to do. They have forty-eight drills, so they come in one drill weekend a month, Saturday/Sunday, every month. That is considered four drills; four times twelve gives them forty-eight drills. The also have two weeks that they give to the Navy annually. During that two weeks, what they are trying to do, is they go out to the fleet and support their Operational Commander.

DH. So that is what they do those two weeks.

EI. Correct, the sailors, when they sign up for the Navy Reserve, they kind of have two bosses in the Navy Reserve. I am their administrative boss, so on these forty-eight drills or the one drill weekend a month, I administratively get them ready to be a full up round so the Navy can use them.

DH. So, then, their other boss would be the one on the ship?

EI. So, now, the operational Commander, and that is the guy that is really going to put them to use for the Navy. Right now we are looking at somewhere around 77,000 reservist all throughout the heartland of the country or all over the country, who, on a part-time basis, big Navy or Operation Commanders can call them up to be used by the fleet commander or the operational commander or if they have a special skill, they can be called to go work for the Army. Currently, there is somewhere in the ballpark of 10,000-12,000 sailors doing an Army job, fully, you know, they are mobilized with the Army in Afghanistan and Iraq.

DH. They do their training through you?

EI. Nope, because of their skill sets; like, if they are master at arms, or policeman type force. In the Navy, the Army has said, “Hey, can we have some of these guys’ special forces?” The Seabees, right now, are being used left and right for the efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

DH. But you have definitely trained Seabees currently, correct?

EI. That’s correct.

DH. Who would you say, or where do the majority of the reservists go to, or what groupings?

EI. I have six operational commanders that I provide reservists to. I have a ship repair facility in Sapsago, Japan; I have got Seabees; I have a coastal warfare unit out of Spokane, Washington; I have a hospital fleet unit that reports to Great Lakes . . . I have it detailed in my program or whatnot, it just says the six different units that I have.

DH. Once again—kind of back to part of the original question—you definitely give me the impression: today there are no more Paducah training vessels in the harbor.

EI. That’s correct.

DH. When was the last time they used something to that effect? Do you know, or was the Paducah the last one?

EI. I think the Paducah was the last one where we used the actual port facility. Up until about two years ago, and I guess we still have sailors now, when they come in for a weekend a month, we have sailors that go to the Port Authority or the Army Corps of Engineers, which does all the port operations and different facilities and upkeep of the Port of Duluth-Superior. So we still provide sailors to get not only their Navy training, but they are also doing some services for the community itself.

DH. OK, but—kind of a weird question to ask, but—would you possible say that there is not a lot of use, like, we are right next to Lake Superior, and you don’t actually use Lake Superior that much anymore?

EI. That’s correct. The training asset of Lake Superior certainly precedes my time. I would say the general demographics of a Navy Reserve Center is at an airport nowadays. It is not near a port facility, not near anything. Most training is done online, Powerpoint presentations. Certainly, I am administrative chain of command. I need to get him medically ready; make sure all his shots are in order; make sure he has had some training on information insurance, so the whole digital age—that they are trained there, they know how to not divulge information over the Internet.

DH. That might partially explain why a lot of the bases went from coastal regions to inland or larger cities in general.

EI. The other thing that you have to consider. There are people who could be a sailor throughout the whole country, whether or not they live on the coast or not. They can live wherever they want to, but they still want to serve in the Navy. They also, if they have served in the past . . . Let’s say they served in the past, been active duty, they have done four years with the Navy. The Navy—even though they have gotten out of the Navy and moved back to their hometown where they grew up—the Navy still has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to train this person, you would hate to lose them. So they keep them in the Navy Reserve. Now you have a full round ready to support the fleet two weeks a year or to be mobilized, you know, for a one year/two year basis, active duty if the country needs them.

DH. This is, in my opinion, kind of a silly question, but it is something I would like to have on the record. A lot of people view a reserve unit as a unit that doesn’t usually get sent off. Is this correct?

EI. Not at all. Certainly, in the past two years, I have had seventy plus, I would say seventy to 100, get mobilized from Navy Operations Support Center in Duluth. The big Navy, the fleet, has asked these reservists, sometimes asked these reservist, voluntarily mobilized them for a year, sometimes a year to a-year-and-half, and used them for what ever the fleet needs them for.

DH. So, would you easily say that the reserve have been in full use?

EI. Correct. Of these, such as . . . for example, the Army is using 12,000 Navy sailors for Army jobs. Navy reservists—not by regular Navy—fill 80 percent of those.

DH. Is this something that has happened even prior to the Global War on Terror? Was this something that was in effect?

EI. Negative. This is something relativity new to the past six years.

DH. OK, you may not know on this again, but, during the Vietnam era, were the reservists used?

EI. My history—I probably don’t know enough on how the Navy Reserves were used.

DH. Obviously, during WWII there were intensely used.

EI. Correct, certainly the perception through the 80’s and 90’s was that if you joined the Navy Reserve you will never be mobilized or used. The Navy is an unique organization. It used to be thought of in the past, that the Navy reserve would mobilized an entire—like, I have six units reporting to me—they would mobilize the entire ship repair facility to Sapsago, Japan.

Now the latest perception, probably since two years ago, the whole Navy reserve big picture is, they are going to look at each individual sailor in the reserves, look at their skill sets, and pull them on an individual basis.

DH. That is a change within the recent . . . ?

EI. I would say very recent, probably since 2001. To use Navy reservists, don’t mobilize the whole unit; take them one-by-one.

DH. I guess I bring this up because there is a lot of confusion, in my opinion, in the community, that believe the Reserve and the National Guard—which are two totally different things and they operate differently—they also believe the Reserve was never meant even to be part of war, and the Reserve was meant to be something to put up flags.

EI. Correct, and that is a transition ship over the past.

DH. It was meant for this purpose, as it is currently?

EI. Correct, I see what you are saying. I think the origin of the reserves of the Navy were meant that in a time of war, everyone would switch and turn back to active duty and be the first ones called.

DH. And they would be expected to be called?

EI. Correct.

DH. OK, in my opinion, it is kind of a misconception today that they WEREN’T supposed to be.

EI. Correct.

DH. I just want to make sure that is clear.

EI. Nowadays there is a big transitional shift into individual mobilizations, looking at each individual sailor for their skill sets, and then using each person differently and as needed.

DH. Do you have a watch on you, so I don’t take you too long?

EI. Yeah, we are OK.

DH. I have one more question I really want to ask. Before we discussed a funny kind of humorous story about a Liberty cruise that came into town and how the governor came to watch it, and how there was a Navy reserve boat or ship that was in front of it and was going to try and shoot some water in the air.

EI. You bet. I certainly wasn’t here at the time. It was a Great Lakes cruise.

DH. What year was it?

EI. I have several newspaper clippings that tell the story much better than I.

DH. Does Milissa have those?

EI. It’s in that big book, the big book, and it details it perfectly. Also the Paducah crew, I think, probably tell the story better.

DH. But still, I would like to hear it from what you gathered from it, if you want to tell the story.

EI. Naw.

DH. Or do you want to?

EI. I don’t think I am certainly no expert on it. All I know is the Navy reserve had a smaller boat, some of the Paducah crew that meet every Wednesday has a contingent that was on this small vessel (it is not just the Paducah crew that meets, they also meet with the guys that were crew of this small boat).

As this big Navy vessel was coming in, the Navy reserve, the local ship, this small little boat, was leading it and spraying water, just to get everyone’s attention. It is a very common site for a ship that is being brought into harbor to do this. Well, once it got pier-side, and all the crowds met to receive the vessel, the Navy reserve vessel started sinking to the point of underwater.

There was a hole in one of the pipes that was providing the fountain of water to lead the vessel in. The vessel coming into Duluth Port didn’t make the news, but the Navy reserve vessel did. They subsequently took this part that had the hole in it and made it into a trophy, which I believe you have.

DH. It reads that it is a traveling trophy, so did they hand it out to other reserves who may have done something stupid?

EI. Probably something stupid. The Paducah crew can probably give you a much better elaboration of what the trophy was and the story better.

DH. That is just one of the questions that I wanted to have on record. Is there anything else that you would like to add that I haven’t said today, that makes the Duluth Naval Reserve?

EI. Yeah, I think the Seabees need some credit. There is a unit that drills with me that has been in Navy Duluth for quite some time, as long as I can recollect. I have given them their history back to them. I didn’t give you; I have probably twenty clippings of newspaper articles of how the Seabees have built things around the community. They have refurbished a train in Superior, I think they have worked on every Boy Scout and Girl Scout camp in the whole local area, as far as building a cabin, building a picnic area, building this and that. That is what their job is in the Navy, to rebuild things under fire, so their best training, in the local area, when they come in for a drill weekend, is to build something not under fire. They have something to build, so they have gone out and . . . just this countless number of articles that they have done to rebuild all these different camps and assisted in the community, is really neat.

DH. Who would be a good contact to learn more about what they have done?

EI. Fort Mc Coy is who they report to, that is their operational boss. They have a whole history and a historical center—? Maybe not. I can put you in touch with some of the Seabee history in the Duluth area.

DH. Yes, that would be really interesting, to be honest, this is the first I have really heard of their community involvement.

EI. They have helped out with the Hermantown police firing range, the Army Corps of Engineers has used a lot of sailors for refurbishing their pier-side and dock facilities and stuff like that, some of the Derek barges and whatnot have been refurbished by Navy sailors because of their nautical knowledge. Do you know a little bit about the Army Corp of Engineers? They are not an Army, they are Department of the Army probably, I think, but they do port facilities, they maintain the bridge, they are maintaining the Port of Duluth. Which grossly exceeds what the airport does.

DH. There is quite a few of Seabees that train with you. I remember that last year on Veterans Day, there were several Seabees who had recently returned.

EI. That’s right, They are very proud of their . . . the Seabees are a unique part of the Navy. You don’t think of construction people, building bridges, building homes, building plumbing construction things in the Navy, but that is all they do. They are the primary means that the U.S. military, right now, they are the go-to people for rebuilding Iraq.

DH. Really?

EI. I had one reservist come back from there. He was doing the oil sector. It is massive.

DH. A lot of people, myself included, when you think of the Seabees, you think of them only as building something on the coast, but they do go inland as well? Is that typical, or is that a new thing for a part?

EI. I don’ t know.

DH. OK. Obviously there are other engineering groups out there too. Any other things about local? Do you want to talk about the Navy Ball?

EI It is a Navy League thing.

DH. But you are involved?

EI. In my civilian capacity, helping out with the Navy League. October 13 of every year is the birthday of the Navy, so they try and celebrate with a formal affair. It is upcoming on September 7 this year at the Greysolon Ballroom. It is a formal event, and it holds certain etiquette and fashion, and the script for it is pretty regimented, you have to do this, pretty similar to any military function or military formal occasion.

DH. It is put on by the Navy League, and who makes up the Navy League in Duluth?

EI. I not know, I have a meeting at 5:00 for the Navy Ball. Lance Reasor is part of it, Donna Stone. That is about the only two I can think of.

DH. Is the Navy League a fairly large group?

EI. It is nationwide.

DH. I mean in Duluth?

EI. I don’t know. It is an aging population, with limited assets.

DH. So it is a typical veterans group?

EI. Sure.

DH. I realized last night that there was obliviously submariners who have trained out here, too. Do you have a lot of submariners that come from, or to train here?

EI. I don’t think they ever trained here, but maybe—? Lance is the only one I know.

DH. Did Lance actually train here?

EI. I don’t think he trained here, I think he trained in the real Navy and just happened to retire here. The interesting thing: Most of the ore boat captains, I would say a significant portion of them, are Navy trained personal. Their nautical knowledge and their how-to-be-a-captain-of-a-ship came from the Navy. They wear the same uniform.

DH. Submariners are rare to come from this area.

EI. I would say so; the odds are the same as any place else. My brother was a submariner for five years, and we are from Michigan. That is just one of your skills in the Navy. You join the Navy, you can decide to go aviation, which is over half the Navy, or you can go submarines, you can go ship drivers, you can go Seabees, or you can go medical corps. Or you can go JAG Corps—Judge Adjunct General—the Navy is huge as far as what . . .

DH. What percent of the Navy is the Seabees?

EI. Probably less than 10 percent. But they are one of the high-in-demand now. Some nautical information, something to note: Duluth is a port city, it is not an airport city. It was founded on shipping, coming and going. It is the 18th busiest port by cargo volume in the nation. It is the busiest freshwater port in the world; there is more volume coming out of here, as a freshwater port, than any other freshwater port.

DH. In the world?

EI. Yeah, name any other.

DH. Chicago. Is Chicago not a freshwater port?

EI. It is, but they don’t have all the taconite and the coal coming from the Midwest. You do not see ore boats coming into Chicago, ever. You don’t see it in Detroit either. Oh, yes you do, but not like this.

DH. It is based on volume?

EI. Correct. The Coast Guard can give you more statistics on that.

DH. I didn’t know that.

EI. But by cargo volume, we are the busiest freshwater port in the world. and also the 18th busiest port in the U.S.

DH. That is actually pretty amazing.

EI. It was founded by Congdon, wasn’t that the steel empire?

DH. Congdon was a lawyer.

EI. How did he make his money?

DH. He made his money by buying land, which was sold to U.S. Steel.

EI. There you go; I know it was steel.

DH. He was a land speculator. George H. Crosby was in iron ore.

EI. Iron Range, you know, we have to move this iron. Minnesota was the place that they built all the ships and airplanes and used the steel from here for the whole industrial revolution for the U.S.

DH. Yes, and for World War II, it was a huge production, most of the major streamliners came from here. Nautical history is one thing. What do you think is unique about Duluth from a nautical perspective? Granted, you do not train on ships out here anymore.

EI. I think this could be a training facility for ships and whatnot. It never did catch on.

DH. A lot of the World War II guys always talk about how unique it is, because it is so cold, all year, how they had to take showers with Lake Superior water. They said if you weren’t awake, you were after your shower. When you scrubbed the deck you had to use the water from the Lake, and how that was an experience-and-a-half.

Site by 3FIVE