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For more than a century, shipyard's work has reflected shipping trends

Fraser Shipyards can trace its origins clear back to 1889, when Alexander McDougall moved his operations from Duluth to Superior and began building whaleback ships on the shore of an inlet called Howard's Pocket. There, McDougall constructed the ...

Fraser Shipyards can trace its origins clear back to 1889, when Alexander McDougall moved his operations from Duluth to Superior and began building whaleback ships on the shore of an inlet called Howard's Pocket. There, McDougall constructed the first dry dock on Lake Superior -- and the largest one on all the Great Lakes, at that.

In 1899, the shipyard changed hands and began operating as the Superior Shipbuilding Co. The new business produced 30 lakers and 25 ocean-going freighters for service during World War I, according to local historian Patrick Lapinski.

During World War II, the shipyard primarily played a support role, tending to the needs of the oreboats that fed the steel mills at the heart of this nation's war effort.

In 1946, Eigil and Henry Knudsen, owners of Knudsen Construction, bought the Superior shipyard. They brought in Robert M. Fraser to supervise operations. A Duluth native, Fraser came to the Knudsens from the Globe Shipbuilding Co., where he served as hull superintendent, overseeing the construction of more than 30 merchant marine vessels between 1942 and 1944, according to "Pride of the Inland Seas," a maritime history of the Twin Ports.

In 1955, Fraser and Byron Nelson, his business partner, purchased the shipyard from the Knudsens. Together, they embarked on an effort to modernize the shipyard and scale it to the growing size of lakers. Toward that end, the yard's dry dock facilities were enlarged in 1961.

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In 1977, Fraser sold the shipyard to its current owner: Reuben Johnson & Sons, a Superior construction company.

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