Swapped Stories: The History of Clyde Iron Works in Duluth, Minnesota
Founded in 1889, the Clyde Iron Company originally started as a steel mill and manufacturer of heavy machinery in Duluth, MN. Clyde’s work was instrumental in completing major projects in American history, such as the Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge.
In 1901, Northwestern Manufacturing Company purchased the Clyde Iron Company for one dollar (yes, one dollar!) and changed its name to Clyde Iron Works. Back then, Duluth was a huge factory and working man’s town due to its port located on Lake Superior. Northwestern Manufacturing was one of the many heavy industrial fabricators in Duluth at the time and had an innovative history, including being the first company to use an internal combustion engine for a hoist.
Like other major American factories, Clyde Iron Works was called to war duty for both World War I and II. Considering their previous achievements, the company supplied hoists and derricks for the army. Fortunately, the Duluth company made such an impact on the War that France asked Clyde to continue building units for their ports.
Later, over 3 million dollars was put into the Duluth plant to retrofits older infrastructure and add one new building, but unfortunately, nothing could save the company as the market for their high-capacity cranes was dying. The company that once employed over 500 employees was now down to just 30, with only a design team and maintenance crew left after layoffs.
In a last-ditch effort to save the company one last time, Clyde produced a crane that could lift 4,400 tons, equal to the weight of the Duluth’s Radisson Hotel. Still, it was ultimately unsuccessful, and Clyde had to close their Duluth operating location. In 1986, Clyde Iron Works moved to Saint Paul, MN, merging with American Hoist and Derrick to become AmClyde.
The site in Duluth’s Lincoln Park neighborhood was used for multiple purposes over the subsequent years, such as a shop where replacement parts for AmClyde were made and a small machine shop.
In 2003, Alex Giuliani purchased the site and turned the building into Clyde Park’s restaurant and entertainment venue, which opened in 2010.
Today, the building that was once a heavy machine factory is open to the public and known as the Clyde Iron Works Restaurant and Bar. The restaurant has been fixed up and can also be rented out as an event venue and is owned and operated by Alex Giuliani, who resides in Duluth.
Happy swapped stories, friends!
All images were provided by The Clyde Iron Works team.