Columbia Steamship Company

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there was a steady transition from wooden vessels to steel hulls. Mining for iron ore was a hot commodity that had great potential for a business to be extremely profitable. One company that was a major competitor of this resource was Oglebay Norton. With iron ore being in such high demand, Oglebay was unable to keep up with the demand for iron ore on the lower lakes. As a solution, Oglebay formed the Columbia Steamship Company in 1920. Columbia then purchased eleven ships from smaller operators to form the fleet. This nine-foot swallowtail company flag was used by Columbia Steamship. The flag displays the company’s logo of a star and a “C” at the center, which could be seen on the smokestacks of the vessels. 

In the 1930s, Columbia Steamship Company had its name changed to Columbia Transportation Company; the name changed slightly but the flag remained the same. In 1994, the company was changed once more to Oglebay Norton Marine Transportation Company bringing the Columbia name to an end. 

This exhibit is made possible by visitors like you.  Please consider making a donation to the National Museum of the Great Lakes to help us continue our important work of preserving and making know the history of the Great Lakes.