The ships of Savage

I’m attempting to fly an airplane to the northeast today for a weekend wedding so I won’t be posting today. But since this is a pledge drive week at MPR, I guess I’ll do what my radio colleagues do and bring back some old “shows” you might’ve missed. These are some of my favorites and if it inspires you to tell me about similar people whom I should write about, all the better.

(January 16, 2003)

You knew that Savage, Minnesota was a shipbuilding port during World War II, right? Me, neither.

But now we do, thanks to Emma Weisner, a student at St. Louis Park High School. She’ll represent Minnesota at the opening of a new pavilion at the World War II museum in New Orleans, as part of her project documenting shipbuilding in Minnesota during the war.

In her online effort — available here — she documents the shipyards of Duluth-Superior, but notes that Cargill in Savage was the largest of the World War II shipyards in Minnesota because the Navy noticed the company was so good at building barges and ships to haul wheat and grain.

During its heyday, 3,500 people worked at the Savage shipyard, the city’s website says.

Most of the ships built were fuel tankers, like the Kishwaukee, which had a long military life, supporting ships in Okinawa and, much later, delivering fuel for Navy planes in Vietnam.


But the ships are all gone now, except for — maybe — two. The last Savage-built ship — the Elkhorn — was sold to Taiwan in 1972, was renamed Hsing Lung and was last seen steaming around as late as 2008. It’s shown here on the left, next to the Pecatonica, also built in Savage.


(h/t: Dan Albright)