The tug Edna G was built in 1896 by Cleveland Shipbuilding, at the order of the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad, for assisting ore carriers of every description, into and out of the harbor in Agate Bay. Named for the daughter of J. L. Greatsinger, then-president of the Duluth & Iron Range Railroad Company. She cost to build her was $35,397.50. The entire tug was of open-hearth steel construction, from keel to the top of the main deck cabin. The only wood was in all window frames and the doors, the gunwales and fender strakes (rub rails). Shortly before our involvement in World War 1, steel doors and windows were installed. She remained in service in Two Harbors for all but two years of her career, when she hauled coal barges along the East Coast during World War I. The Edna G. was later reinforced to serve as an icebreaker. This facilitated the tug’s involvement in firefighting and rescue operations.
“All ships were launched sideways into the Cuyahoga River, at Cleveland Shipbuilding, and the Edna G heeled over and sank on launch. It was recovered and repaired as needed and finally sailed off to Two Harbors.”
With a registry tonnage of 154 tons, her deadweight is 300 tons (about 272.15 metric tons). She is 110 feet long, 23-foot beam and about 12-foot draft and has a single 4-bladed propeller of 9 feet in diameter (33.5 meters x 7 meters x 3.65 meters and 2.74-meter propeller). The engine is a reciprocating type, with a high-pressure cylinder and a low-pressure cylinder, to use the steam twice, for better efficiency. Originally powered at 700 horsepower, she had her boiler updated to 1000 horsepower in 1949 to accommodate bigger ore boats.
While used primarily for helping ore boats into and out of the harbor and ore dock berths, she has also been instrumental in many rescue operations after storms or collisions on the lake. She has also been used for firefighting on burning boats, burning sections on ore docks, and on rare occasions burning buildings on or near the waterfront. Also, company officials have used the tug for tour junkets along the north shore, as evidenced by logbook entries from the past. At the time, the Edna G was the finest and most powerful tug in the area and was fitted out in luxurious fashion for passengers. Beneath her sturdy exterior, the Edna G.’s interior was rather lavish, with polished birch paneling and brass fittings. The crew at the time included a cook, and the quarters could comfortably manage 4 or 5 well-connected passengers who might think kindly of the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad and the city of Two Harbors.
“One newspaper article from the early 20th century tells of a Senator, a Congressman, and other high-ranking officials taking the tug for a weeklong fishing junket on the North Shore and the hiring of another tug to take her place for the week, moving vessels in and out of the harbor, in her absence.”
In December of 1980, she made her last tow and was retired and the fire under the boiler was put out for the last time. The Edna G was placed on the National Historic Places Register in 1974. Today, she sits rocking in her berth at the tug dock, quietly reminding passers-by of an earlier era and her part in the building and defense of America.
During the Bicentennial celebration in 1976, a one-mile race was held between the Edna G, a Coast Guard cutter and a diesel-powered tug. She defeated them easily. After the race, Captain Adolph Ojard commented, “Now when Edna retires, she can go with dignity”.