City of Gladstone

1100 Delta Avenue
906-428-2311

History Of Gladstone

Gladstone was created by the Soo Line Railroad. In early 1887 the plat of Minnewasca was finished and ready to be filed with the county and Secretary of State in Lansing. It was at that time that Senator W. D. Washburn, who had an interest in building the railroad, persuaded that the name be changed to Gladstone in honor of British premier, William Evert Gladstone. The estimated population of Gladstone in December of 1887 was 1,200 people with 251 buildings erected between July 6 and December 10, 1887 at a value of $425,000. Prior to July 6 there were two buildings erected and occupied. Gladstone was incorporated as a village on October 12, 1887 and on March 5, 1888 was incorporated as a city with an estimated population of 1,800.

Saunders Point, so named for Capt. Nate Saunders who headquartered there when fishing at various points along the bay, was the location for the initial build-up of Gladstone. Among the first of the installations at the port was an ore dock 766' long to enable the Soo Line to bring ore from its connection with the Milwaukee and Northern Railroad at Pembine. The dock was used for 12 years before it was struck by a large ore vessel and broke in two in 1900. The dock was never rebuilt. A coal dock (93' x 500'), a merchandise dock (93' x 505'), a flour shed (52' x 540') and a coal shed (90' x 555') were also built. The Gladstone port was equipped for handling coal, iron, timber, flour, grain and general merchandise.

Flour milling was a big business for the beginning of Gladstone. If not for a few Minneapolis flour millers, Saunders Point might not be much different today from Squaws Point across the bay. It was those millers who became the builders of the Soo Line Railroad and the Soo Line Railroad that put Gladstone on Saunders Point.

Early manufacturing businesses of Gladstone included three sawmills and a washboard factory. Gladstone went without a factory except the aforementioned until 1892 when The Cooperage Company came. They manufactured hoops, staves and barrel heads under the name Buckeye Stave Company. They built company housing and a "company store," and entire north side of Gladstone came to be known as the Buckeye addition. Shortly thereafter, the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company built a furnace in Kipling. Webster L. Marble started what is known as Marble Arms Corporation in 1898 with the "Safety Axe", built from a shed behind his home at 816 Wisconsin Avenue. With the help of Frank Van Cleve, they joined together and built a new building on Superior Avenue. Van Cleve remained as a partner until his death in 1920.

A directory of the city published in 1889 contained a plat map that showed the Soo Line yards, the transfer elevator, the freight house, the coal docks, the flour dock and ore dock. Also shown is a belt line railroad along the shore in the current Lakeshore Drive and Minneapolis Avenue area. At the end of 10th Street (then known as Central Avenue) is the Gladstone Dock and Warehouse Company where steamers docked.