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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

GREAT LAKES DREDGE AND DOCK CO.

GREAT LAKES DREDGE AND DOCK CO.

GREAT LAKES DREDGE AND DOCK CO. was established when the use of larger ships on the Great Lakes created a need for deeper channels and sturdier docks. Founded in 1890 by William A. Lydon, the company has grown since then and expanded its operations to Central and South America, as well as the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean Islands. In addition to dredging and dock construction, Great Lakes has also fabricated and laid pipelines, installed piers for bridges, built up breakwaters, and added sand to eroding beaches. In 1914-15 the firm participated in the construction of piers and abutments for the Detroit-Superior and Clark Ave. bridges.

In the 50-year period 1920-70, Great Lakes Dredge & Dock worked on the McArthur Lock at Sault Ste. Marie and built the southwest pier at that location to protect the Power Canal from out-of-control freighters. It also participated in construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Dredging the Cuyahoga River was an annual task, and among other projects managed by the Cleveland office during these years was revamping the breakwater at the Avon Lake Power Plant and performing marine work at the CLEVELAND ELECTRIC ILLUMINATING CO. In 1977 Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. established the North American Trailing Co. as a wholly owned subsidiary, and 2 years later Great Lakes Intl. became the holding company for the firm and its subsidiaries. Management change took place in early Nov. 1985 when Great Lakes Intl. was taken over by real estate magnate Sam Zell, who sold the company in 1992 to Blackstone Investment Group of New York. In 1995 the company's main office was located in Oakbrook, IL, and the Cleveland office served as a small regional center.