Dunbar and Sullivan Dredging Company records

Identifier: GLMS-0003

Collection Overview


This collection includes the records of the Dunbar and Sullivan Dredging Co. of Cleveland and its predecessors: Whitney Brothers; Merritt, Chapman, and Whitney; and Merritt, Chapman, and Scott. The materials in the collection span the years 1902-1964 and document dock, dam, and bulkhead construction around the Great Lakes and along the Mississippi River. Types of materials include: correspondence, contracts, blueprints, specifications, and an extensive series of photographs. The photographs are especially valuable since they depict major private and public port construction projects throughout the Great Lakes, Canada, New York, Boston, and the Mississippi River system.


  • Creation: 1891-1982


13 Cubic Feet (6 record storage cartons, 11 legal manuscript boxes, 1 legal half manuscript box, 1 flat box)


Scope and Contents

This collection contains files regarding construction projects at port facilities on the Great Lakes and along the Mississippi River undertaken by the Dunbar and Sullivan Dredging Co. of Cleveland, Ohio. Most of the construction estimate files are from projects completed before the merger of Dunbar and Sullivan with Merritt, Chapman and Scott by the latter company's predecessors, Whitney Bros. Co. and Merritt, Chapman and Whitney. Within the files are series on construction estimates, photographs, and correspondence. The files span the years 1891-1964. Of particular significance are the approximately 1,005 photographs of construction sites for docks, dams, and bulkheads. These items date from 1902-1982 and record the construction and maintenance of the technical support facilities for waterborne commerce in the United States for much of the twentieth century. Published materials have been separated for cataloging in the HCGL's library materials collection.

Company History

The Dunbar and Sullivan Dredging Company of Cleveland, Ohio was founded in 1844. Originally headquartered in Buffalo, New York, this company also called Detroit, Michigan home before relocating to Cleveland. Subsidiary operations have been located in Duluth, Minnesota as well. During its years of operation, Dunbar and Sullivan has provided services for submarine rock excavation, hydraulic and dipper dredging, land reclamation by hydraulic fill, ship channel dredging, river and harbor improvements, dock construction, pile driving, and pipeline/cable laying. Dunbar and Sullivan has been actively involved in the development of the marine navigation support infrastructure in the Great Lakes and Mississippi valley regions since the mid-nineteenth century. Municipal development projects for sewage treatment plants and bridges have also been completed. Files present note partnerships formed with the Whitney Bros. Co. (1889-1932); Merritt, Chapman and Whitney (1932-1936); and Merritt, Chapman and Scott. The acquisition of Merritt, Chapman and Scott (founded in 1860) expanded Dunbar and Sullivan's engineering market in the 1960s.

Conditions Governing Access

No known access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers using this collection assume full responsibility for conforming to the laws of libel, privacy, and copyright, and are responsible for securing permissions necessary for publication or reproduction.

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Construction Estimates, 1891-1949
  2. Photographs, 1902-1982
  3. Correspondence, 1904-1981

Related Materials

Extensive documentation of the equipment used by the company, including blueprints, project files, photographs, publicity and sales materials, and other materials are held by the Historical Construction Equipment Association.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The photograph portion of the collection was donated by Eric Hirsimaki on January 25, 1970. The construction esimates and subject files were donated by Dunbar and Sullivan in 1982.

Guide to the Dunbar & Sullivan Dredging Company records
Mark Sprang
May 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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