So Minnesota: Port Cargill

So Minnesota: Port Cargill

So Minnesota: Port Cargill

A group of shipbuilders in Savage helped us win World War II.

Several ships were christened along the shore of the Minnesota River at Port Cargill, but its past is largely forgotten.

“I think it’s sort of a local secret,” Sarah Junod with the Scott County Historical Society said. “I even grew up in this area I never had any idea.”

During World War II, the U.S. government asked Cargill, which made large barges, to haul grain to build ships for the war.

“There were about 3,500 workers or so at the height of wartime production and about a quarter of who were women,” Junod said.

Starting in 1943, Cargill built ships to carry oil and gasoline. They were about as long as a football field, carried around 130 people and supplied fuel to forces fighting in the Pacific theater.

“The proximity to the Minnesota River, which connects to the Mississippi River,” Junod said. “It would have been relatively easy from their perspective to just build the ships here inland, sail it down the river and then out to the Pacific.”

By the war’s end, Port Cargill had built 18 ocean-going ships for the Navy, four towboats for the Army and earned its first Army-Navy “E,” a prestigious award for excellence in the production of war equipment.