Memento from Riverside Shipyard

This World War I shipbuilding medal was donated to us by a friend who happened upon it at an estate sale.  It is a special and rare find.

This small medal commemorates a special place and occupation in Duluth’s history.

These were produced by the Emergency Fleet Corporation (EFC) which was created by the United States Shipping Board, or War Shipping Board. They were awarded by the War Shipping Board to private shipyard workers who could then wear them to show their support and contribution to the war effort.  Each medal is numbered and some had bars and pins for wearing.  They could be worn while working, but were to be returned to the shipyard when the war was over.  This one wasn’t returned – thus our good fortune – and a friend’s keen eye and one dollar gives us this fascinating piece of McDougall history.

Alexander McDougall’s Riverside Shipyard was built in late 1917.  It was a planned community as well as a large shipyard and included housing for workers and their families, a bank, movie theater and hospital.  A baseball team, many community groups and a golf course encouraged an active community.  The first ship built by the company was launched in February of 1918.

The McDougall-Duluth Shipyard in Riverside was a hive of activity during the Great War. Riverside still exists as a quiet neighborhood overlooking what is now a marina. The marina uses the same piers that, on at least one occasion, housed 15 vessels being built simultaneously.

The Riverside yard was contracted to create oceangoing cargo ships for the War, building 37 such ships between 1918 and 1920.  Workers at Riverside, along with other shipyards working for the War Shipping Board, were awarded these special medals.