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“one of the toughest ports in the world, sharing that distinction with Shanghai and Calcutta . . .”  I believe that’s “tough” as quantified in black eyes, missing teeth, and blood spat out onto the gravel.  I wonder who had the breadth of experience to render this judgement.  Why would such ports as Rio, Murmansk, and Oswego not be included . . . or others?

Besides that, those few sentences render a great description of mechanization.

Mississagi is wintering over here in Ashtabula. She’s appeared on this blog a half dozen times . . . working.   I’m coming home is Norfolk Southern’s mantra.

I believe this archway is a coal conveyor belt.

That’s all you get of GL tug Rhode Island.  Mississagi (1943) is only a year younger than Alpena.  But Rhode Island dates from 1930.   The white tug in front of it is Nancy Anne. based in Cheboygan, MI.

A bit farther east in Ashtabula, Calumet winters over.  Previous posts including Calumet can be found here.

and off its stern, it’s the upper portion of tug Olive L. Moore (hull launched in 1928) and barge Menominee.  I caught them on Lake Huron in August 2017.

If you wanted to start reading that historical marker from side one, here it is, then if you want, you can go back to the beginning and read that in proper context.  If you want the short history of Ashtabula, click here for a review of a good book.  If you want the juicy details or at least the gritty ones, buy Carl E. Feather’s Ashtabula Harbor:  A History of the world’s Greatest Iron Ore Receiving Port.  My copy is on order.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.


To start, these are boats, I’m told, not ships.  I first saw the type as a kid, reading a book that made an impression and crossing the St Lawrence on the way to the grandparents’ farm.

I’ve posted Great Lakes photos a fair number of times in the past few years, so I continue CYPHER series here with Manitowoc –a river-size self unloader–departing Cleveland for Milwaukee.

Alpena–1942–with the classic house-forward design transports cement.  I was thrilled to pass her late this summer on a magnificent Lake Huron afternoon.

Although you might not guess it, Algoma Harvester was built here half a world away from the Lakes.  To get to her trading waters, she crossed two oceans, and christened less than four years ago.  The selling point is that she carries more cargo than typically carried within the size parameters of a laker (Seawaymax), requires fewer crew, and exhausts cleaner.  I took the photo on the Welland.

Thunder Bay hails from the same river in China as Algoma Harvester and just a year earlier.  The photo was taken near Montreal in the South Shore Canal.

Tim S. Dool was built on a Canadian saltwater port in 1967.  I caught her here traversing the American Narrows on the St. Lawrence.

American Mariner was built in Wisconsin in 1979.   In the photo below she heads unbound on Lake St. Louis. I’ve seen her several times recently, here at night and here upbound St. Clair River.

Baie St. Paul is a slightly older, nearly identical Chinese built sister to Thunder Bay.

Algolake, launched 1977,  was among the boats built in the last decade of the Collingwood Shipyard.  

Lee R. Tregurtha, here down bound in Port Huron,  has to have among the most interesting history of any boat currently called a laker.  She was launched near Baltimore in 1942 as a T-3 tanker, traveled the saltwater world for two decades, and then came to the lakes.  I  also caught her loading on Huron earlier this year here.

Mississagi is another classic, having worked nearly 3/4 of a century on the Lakes.

Buffalo, 1978 Wisconsin built, and I have crossed paths lots recently, earlier this month here.  The photo below was taken near Mackinac;  you can see part of the bridge off her stern. Tug Buffalo from 1923, the one going to the highest bidder in five days, now stands to go to the bidder with $2600 on the barrelhead.

I’ll close this installment out with lake #12 in this post . . . .    Hon. James L. Oberstar, with steel mill structures in the background, has been transporting cargo on the lakes since the season of 1959.  She is truly a classic following that steering pole. See Oberstar in her contexts here, here, and really up close, personal, and almost criminally so for the diligent photographer, here.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.  More to come.



Here are the previous ones.

Whitefish Bay was built in China in 2010.


See the beached vessel to the left, it’s


Kathryn Spirit, not a pretty sight.


Here Orsula departs upstream of Beauharnois Canal.


She’s formerly . . . Federal Calumet.


Here Mississagi was offloading corn,


with a green light and 84% of something status.


And closing this out, I have a friend on Algolake who prompted me to help them fete their vessel’s anniversary five years ago here.


Happy 40th very soon and fair winds.   I’m curious about the United Way logo on the superstructure.



All photos by Will Van dorp.

This series goes back to 2006, when I had no idea where it would end up a decade on.  Click here to see past installments.  All the photos in this post I took between Prescott ON and the start of the Beauharnois Canal.

Below . . . it’s the light at the location of the Battle of the Windmill.   Some of the charm of seeing this borderlands is learning of the obscure events of US-Canada history and the little remembered or mentioned groups like Hunter Lodges and the so-called “patriots” of the Patriots’ War.


Here’s the active monument to commerce at the port of Johnstown, ON.


What prompts me to do this post is a recognition of the beauty little seen.


More Mississagi soon, but for now, the self-unloader is offloading upstream of the Iroquois Lock.


This wall leads into the Iroquois lock, which doesn’t always close.  It’s a check lock.


This is the same dairy farm off the port beam and


the stern.


We meet Thalassa Desgagnes upstream of the Eisenhower Lock.


These transmission lines come off the Moses-Saunders Power Dam, crossing over the River at Massena.


Dog swimming on a leash?


Singer Castle, it’s not.


Singer Castle, 50 or so miles upstream, this is. 


And these are the Adirondacks, as seen from the River downstream of Massena.




This looks like the Eglise de Saint Anicet, QC.


Labrador here is just upstream of the first lock in the Beauharnois Canal.



All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Let’s look at these from a different perspective . . . whether they can escape the inland seas shared by the US and Canada or not.  The maximum size the Seaway aka Highway H2O can accommodate is 740′ x 78. x 30.’

So Kaye E. Barker . . . 767′ x 70′ x 36′ . . . Nope.    But when she first came off the ways in Toledo in 1951, her loa was 647′ and she had no self-unloader, so back then she could have,


although there was no St. Lawrence Seaway then either.  So Nope again. But she was not lengthened until 1976, so Yes.  Her tonnage capacity is 25,900.


Mississagi comes in at 620′ x 60′ x 35,’  so if she’s carrying a partial load . . . maybe.  She came out of the River Rouge in 1943.  Her capacity . . . 15,800 tons.


In photo #2 above and the one below, notice the RenCen of Detroit.


American Mariner came out of Buffalo in 1979 at 730′ x 78′ x 45.’


So with a light load, yes.


Her capacity is 37,200 tons.


I don’t know if she ever leaves the Upper Lakes.


Chemtrans Elbe is a saltie, so obviously she’s a global traveler.  She was built in Korea in 2009 and measures 423′ x 75.’


Edzard Schulte was built in China in 2011, 475′ x ’75.’



All photos by Will Van Dorp.


And the trip goes on . . . here heading for the Straits, where it seems there are underwater sights I missed.


Meanwhile, on the surface of the top of Lakes Huron and Michigan, there are plenty of things to look at, like this old ChrisCraft and


1944 fish tug Richard E. 


After we pass White Shoal light, we encounter traffic


like Karen Andrie and


“maritimer” Mississagi.


From morning to night, there were small boats fishing and larger


ones –like this unidentified Algoma Central Corporation dry bulker–


until day ends over Wisconsin.



All photos by Will Van Dorp.

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