OGLEBAY NORTON CO., one of the oldest iron-ore houses in Cleveland, was established in 1851 as the firm of Hewitt & Tuttle. Cleveland commission agents Isaac Hewitt and Henry Tuttle received the first cargo of Lake Superior iron to reach Cleveland in 1852, and 2 years later they became agents for the Lake Superior Iron Co. Henry's son, Horace, developed a 3,000-acre tract on the Menominee range, and a new partnership was organized in 1884 when Wheeling, WV, industrialist EARL W. OGLEBAY joined Horace A. Tuttle in Tuttle, Oglebay & Co. Upon the death of Horace Tuttle, Oglebay invited Cleveland banker DAVID Z. NORTON to join him. In 1890 Oglebay Norton & Co. secured a contract to organize all of JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER's iron-ore properties in the Mesabi Range and to act as manager and sales agent. It acquired a fleet of 11 lake freighters, which became the Columbia Steamship Co. in 1921, later expanded and renamed the Columbia Transportation Co. in 1931. After its incorporation in 1924, the company branched into mining and selling coal, marketing fluorspar and ferro-alloys, and manufacturing insulation products for steel ingot pouring. During the 1930s it began to manage 4 docks along the Great Lakes.
As early as 1939, the firm, aware of the depletion of high-grade iron ores, initiated a study of low-grade minerals and established the Reserve Mining Co. to develop taconite. Its largest venture was the establishment of a huge taconite mine in Eveleth, MN, in the 1960s. In 1957 Oglebay Norton & Co. and its subsidiaries merged into a single unit, the Oglebay Norton Co., allowing for further growth and diversification into the areas of glass and foundry sand production and mining fracture sand for the petroleum industry. By the 1980s the company was earning more from nonsteel than from steel-related revenues. Subsequently, however, Oglebay Norton endeavored to focus on its primary business of Great Lakes shipping. In 1995 its Columbia Transportation division operated a fleet of 12 vessels. The main office was moved ca. 1988 from the Hanna Bldg. to the Diamond Bldg., 1100 Superior.
Ada Watterson Yerkes Papers, WRHS.
Oglebay Norton Co. Oglebay Norton Co. (1979).
Oglebay Norton & Co. Raw Materials for the Metallurgical, Ceramic, and Chemical Industries (1947).
Taylor, Harrie S. Oglebay Norton: 100 Years on the Great Lakes (1954).