Cousin Norman Bruce Ream — who built a fortune in Chicago and New York business circles — received a singular honor when a major steamship was dedicated with his name. Born in rural Ursina, Somerset County, PA, he was wounded twice in the Civil War and then, having moved to Iowa, began trading in livestock and grain. During one day in 1883, he sold a half million bushels of wheat in Chicago, which led to a price drop of three-quarters of a cent, in essence allowing him to manipulate the market. With economies of scale in mind, he helped to consolidate a number of small steelmakers and railroad companies into larger, combined entities.
As he grew in stature and wealth, Norman became a trusted friend of such business giants as Marshall Field, Cyrus McCormick, Philip D. Armour, Robert Todd Lincoln (son of the assassinated president) and Charles Schwab. He served on the boards of directors of U.S. Steel, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the Pullman Company, National Biscuit Co. (Nabisco) and the Equitable Life Assurance Society, among many others.
During his term on the U.S. Steel board, the company built a fleet of long and wide ore-hauling vessels for use in the Great Lakes. One fabricated by Chicago Ship Building Company was named the SS Norman B. Ream and operated for many years by U.S. Steel’s Pittsburgh Steamship Division. The vessel was 587 feet in length with a beam of 58 feet, draft of 28 feet and gross tonnage of 7,053 feet.
The Ream homeport was in Duluth, WI. After disuse for five years, it was sold in 1965 to Kinsman Transit Company. In the 1960s it operated under the name Kinsman Enterprise and after a subsequent sale to Seaway Terminal Company was renamed Hull No. 1. The aged vessel finally was sold for scrap in Turkey in 1989. The Ream is cited in Al Miller’s 1999 book Tin Stackers: The History of the Pittsburgh Steamship Company.
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