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Cargo Hook

Cargo Hook

Usage conditions apply
Hand-held cargo hooks were the indispensable tools of longshoremen working on conventional (non-containerized) freighters. In the course of loading and discharging cargo they needed to grab, lift, and move various types and sizes of bags, boxes, and bales. The hooks, held firmly in a gloved hand, extended their reach and helped them lift heavy items. Most longshoremen owned several different types of hooks for moving different materials—from burlap sacks to wooden boxes—and altered the handles to suit their grip.
Longshoreman Herb Mills used this small cargo hook for lifting burlap bags of coffee. Its wooden handle has been whittled to fit comfortably in the palm. The small, sharp iron hook fits through the entire diameter of the handle and is attached with a metal washer. One side of the handle is slightly rounded at an angle for a comfortable thumb grip. Mills used this hook during his career as a longshoreman in San Francisco. Mills was a member of Local 10 of the ILWU—the International Longshore and Warehouse Union—from 1963 to 1992.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Cargo Hook
date made
ca 1960
Physical Description
iron (hook material)
wood (handle material)
overall: 3 1/4 in x 2 7/8 in x 1 1/2 in; 8.255 cm x 7.3025 cm x 3.81 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Herb Mills
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
America on the Move
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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