Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority Records

Identifier: GLMS-0002

Collection Overview


The records in this collection document the activities of the Toledo/Lucas County Port Authority from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The collection includes: minutes, monthly reports, annual reports, correspondence, shipping statistics, engineering reports, financial records, and newsletters. The collection provides excellent sources for the study of the operations of a major port authority and the importance of the St. Lawrence Seaway to the economy of an inland port.


  • 1895-


29.5 Cubic Feet (27 legal manuscript boxes, 8 letter manuscript boxes, 11 records storage cartons)


Scope and Contents

The material in the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority Collection spans the years from 1895 to the present. The material before 1950 is primarily concerned with the St. Lawrence Seaway, whereas that dated after 1950 pertains to the operation of the Port Authority and construction completed completed at the port.

The collection contains a number of minutes of meetings from 1922-1937, and a virtually complete set from 1946 to the present. The minutes, especially after 1946, contain the dates of the meetings, members present, brief synopses of issues before the board of directors, basic policy decisions, and monthly budget reports (after 1970) which contain detailed information on receipts and expenditures. Also included with procedural material are ordinances, proposals and resolutions involving the city of Toledo and its role in developing the port.

The correspondence covers the years from 1925-1973, with a large part of it from 1955 and 1956. The letters before 1955 deal primarily with support for the St. Lawrence Seaway and ideas on the potential of the port of Toledo for maritime trade. The correspondence during 1955 and 1956 pertains to the establishment of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. The weakness with the correspondence is that there is little after 1956 and none since 1973.

The collection contains three subject files. They involve George Hardy, the St. Lawrence Treaty, and construction at Presque Isle. George Hardy was a great supporter of the port of Toledo and the St. Lawrence Seaway until his death in 1946. This file contains his correspondence, speeches, and newspaper clippings about his efforts on behalf of Toledo. The St. Lawrence Treaty file contains statements in support of a treaty between the United States and Canada for the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The third file deals with the five stages of construction at Presque Isle between 1958-1967 that became Port Authority Facility No. 1. This contains the contracts, correspondence, bids, reports, and change orders that were used during the construction.

There are a number of reports found in the collection. These include annual, board and committee, economic, engineering, monthly, Port of Toledo, and statistical reports. These reports cover what the Port Authority has done each year since 1960, what the economic potential for the port is, what occurred at the port of Toledo for each month from 1947-1955, what the history of the port and its development has been, and the import and export figures for the port during the years from 1964-1975. With the exception of the annual reports they do not run to the present.

The literary productions found in the collection include articles, booklets, magazines, histories, newsletters, sailing schedules, and speeches. These pertain to the promotion of the port and its history. The newsletters provide information on the activities of the Port Authority and are the only literary productions to run to the present.

The collection contains few legal documents, most notably acts, bills, contract documents, and agreements. The acts and bills are those by the city of Toledo, the Ohio Legislature, and the Congress of the United States that affected the Port of Toledo. The contract documents deal with construction at Maumee Bay Marina and maintenance dredging in the harbor. The agreements are between the City of Toledo and various groups and primarily involve land transfers.

There are only a few financial documents found in the collection. These include financial statements from companies interested in construction work at the port and documents detailing minimum wage votes for union workers.

The collection contains a large number of newspaper clippings from 1920-1968 that pertain to the St. Lawrence Seaway, promotion of the port, and the Port Authority. The clippings from 1954-1955 deal with the formation of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and the controversy around it. The majority of the clippings date from 1961-1964. Topics include international commerce, labor relations, shipping statistics, construction projects, politics, and local/regional corporation.

A detailed and fairly complete part of the collection are the drawings and blueprints showing the construction at Presque Isle. Most of the plans are included in addition to those for construction at Maumee Bay Marina and Cullen Park. Included in this part of the collection are charts showing farm product production and maps of Toledo showing planned port construction.

Printed materials in the collection include pamphlets and brochures used for public relations and advertising the Port of Toledo. Included with this are lithographs of classic sailing ships used for advertising purposes.

The final section of the collection contains photographs taken during the construction at Maumee Bay Marina in 1961.

Agency History

The realization of Toledo as a contender in the world-trade market was first considered in 1897 as a result of a proposal to adapt the St. Lawrence River for heavy seagoing vessels. To ensure the city's place in an obviously lucrative future, the Toledo Port Commission was founded by the Chamber of Commerce in 1922 to act in an advisory capacity. The volunteer Commission served a fundamental role in the establishment of guidelines for facilities, growth, trade potential, motor and seaway traffic, and was instrumental in creating capital to finance surveys and construction.

Between 1897 and 1955, the Toledo Port Commission underwent many changes. The Port Commission disappeared when the city ordinance (No. 368-41) passed on July 28, 1941, establishing a twelve member Port and Harbor Commission with jurisdiction over all matters relating to the port harbor, with powers to make recommendations to the Toledo City Council on all matters germane to the development and improvement of the harbor rules and regulations concerning the use of the harbor, and other harbor related matters.

Over the next fourteen years, many of the changes that were made anticipated the fundamental reorganization of 1955. On June 10, 1946, the name was changed to the Toledo Port Commission,, but more importantly, the membership of the commission was altered to permit the appointment of four of the nine members by the Lucas County Commission. Another minor restructuring of the Toledo Port Commission was made by council action on May 23, 1949, and the name was changed to the Toledo-Lucas County Port Commission. In 1955 the name was changed back to the Toledo Port Commission.

The Ohio Senate bill 193, which the Ohio Legislature passed on June 21, 1955 and became sections 4582.01-16 of the Revised Code of the Laws of Ohio, made possible a fundamental reorganization of the Toledo Port Commission by enabling the formation of port authorities that transcended existing political subdivisions. The Toledo City Ordinance 427-55 made possible the establishment of a port authority in cooperation with Lucas County, thus paving the way for the creation of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority maintains permanent offices at One Maritime Plaza in Toledo, Ohio, and is governed by a nine-person board of directors. The Port Authority today has broad powers including the right to issue bonds; to exercise the right of eminent domain; to purchase, construct, and lease docks and terminal facilities; to publicize and promote the port; to operate airports; and to levy taxes for its own purpose upon voter approval.

Conditions Governing Access

No known access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is in the public domain.

Language of Materials

Materials in English.


The collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Proceedings
  2. Correspondence
  3. Subject Files
  4. Reports
  5. Literary Productions
  6. Legal and Financial Documents
  7. Newspaper Clippings
  8. Maps, Charts, and Drawings
  9. Graphic Materials

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The initial collection was donated to the Center for Archival Collections in 1970 by William C. Beckett, Manager of Statistics for the Port Authority.

Guide to the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority Records
Robert Dunkelberger, Mark Sprang
February 1985, September 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note