More salt for Duluth

The Algoma Enterprise has been discharging salt at the North American Salt Dock for the last two days; she is expected to complete the discharge later this evening. In the old days, until about 2008, the Algoma Enterprise, then the Canadian Enterprise, loaded coal at Midwest Energy Resources in Superior and carried it to the Ontario Power Generator in Nanticoke, Ontario. She and her sister boat, now the Algoma Transport, then the Canadian Transport, averaged around 25 trips a year on that route. Trading routes can change as often as a boat’s name; in this case, the Nanticoke plant began using nuclear power to generate electricity. Since 2009, we see the Algoma Enterprise only about 5 times a year.

Nothing new now, but I have a scoop from long ago

In the old days, I was sometimes a good source for information about the port. Sometimes I even knew stuff I wasn’t supposed to talk about. Other times, I could and that was fun. Nowadays, I read the paper to find out about the exciting stuff; well not yet so exiting. The Duluth News Tribune had a picture of the Cornelia at anchor off the Duluth piers on their front page this morning (November 7, 2015). The above is the picture I took this morning. There was big news but the News Tribune didn’t know what the news was. I was happy to find out from them that there was news. I still don’t know why she is out there either. I refer you to the article for the list of people who will not tell them (us) what is going on. The US Attorney says the ship is being held there (by the Coast Guard, I assume) as a part of a federal probe.


Many years ago, when I was better connected (before 9-11), I found out a ship was coming to Duluth under armed guard. I got a ride out to the ship at anchor and was lucky enough to come in with her later in the day.

She had many other names before she was decommissioned in 2011.

Radnik: 1984-1996
Grant Carrier: 1996-2001
Chios Sailor: 2001-2007
Elpida: 2007-2009
Chios Voyager: 2009-2011
Kai Shun: 2011 until decommissioned

Read below to find out about that adventure.

On July 5 the Grant Carrier and her crew of 27 left Odessa, a Ukrainian city on the Black Sea, on their way to Duluth. No ship with Yugoslavian officers was allowed in U.S. waters unless accompanied by armed guards, supplied by the Coast Guard and paid for by the shipowner. (Our planes were bombing their cities at the time.)
So the Grant Carrier came to Duluth on August 17, 1999 with a contingent of five armed (but friendly) Coast Guard sailors. The officers and crew were indeed from Yugoslavia, many from Kotor, a city on the coast of the Adriatic Sea in Montenegro.


The ship arrived and dropped anchor and waited for a party of local port officials to come out. I went out with them and took a gamble and asked the captain if I could stay aboard until the ship came in later that afternoon. (The gamble being the possibility that plans would change and the ship would stay at anchor, perhaps for days. There is no regularly scheduled transportation between the Duluth shore and a ship at anchor.)


We came in under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge late that afternoon, as promised. Both the Coast Guard and the captain and crew were out waving to the crowd, none of whom had any idea the guys in blue outfits were wearing pistols and guarding the ship.



As soon as we docked, the Coast Guard left the ship for more private quarters in a local hotel, glad to be back on American soil.

The officers and crew were just as interested in getting off the ship to see the sights in Duluth. The next evening, I was walking down Lake Avenue in Canal Park with Captain Radovic and First Mate Pajovic when we passed Grandma’s Sport’s Garden. Both men started to wave at someone playing pool inside. As we walked on, I asked whom they could possibly know in Duluth. Answer: their friendly Coast Guard ‘protectors’ were taking a break playing a few games of pool. I of course set aside the thought that they might be following us, although the captain did tell me that he had also run into them the night before.

On the evening the ship left Duluth, I went aboard with an armful of Port Authority coffee cups and passed them out to the crew. Some crewmembers left our deck party immediately but returned within minutes with gifts for me. They started with cigarettes and lighters, even though I insisted I didn’t smoke. I quickly realized that it was the thought that counts in these matters.

Others came back with beautiful maps of the area around Kotor. Kotor is a medieval city, and the pictures clearly showed the remains of the wall built centuries ago to protect the city from invaders. As we sat on the deck in Duluth, five of them pointed to houses in the pictures where they live, or once lived. They were so insistent on making sure I knew that they were nice, peace-loving people, as were the people of Montenegro, that I almost could not get off the ship. I was surely convinced, as I walked down the gangway to drive back to the ship canal.


Old salts tell me the Grant Carrier was the first ship ever to come into Duluth under armed guard, and I had the scoop. I went up and down the piers passing out the Duluth Shipping News and telling people that the ship with the armed guards was coming soon. The crew was hyped, and I had suggested to the captain that he do some serious work with the ship’s whistle when they came under the bridge.

I was still not prepared for what happened. As the ship came around the buoy and approached the bridge, the entire crew was out on the deck, and not just standing there. They were all jumping up and down and waving. The captain hit the horn just before the ship went under the bridge, and he didn’t take his hand off until the ship was leaving the canal.

Those of us on the ground returned the jumping and the noise to the ship; it was quite a moment. I felt we had all made a small contribution to a better world given that our two countries were at war.




Cornelia waiting

The Cornelia has been at anchor off the Duluth piers for several days, waiting to come in to load grain at CHS. This is her second trip here this year; she was here in May to load grain at Riverland Ag, formerly Cargill. On previous trips in December, 2012 and November, 2013, she discharged clay at the Port Terminal before loading grain.

Two salties made their first visit to Twin Ports today

The Brant arrived at 10:55 this morning (October 19, 2015) to load grain. An hour later, the BBC Kimberley came in to load wind turbine parts.

A walk in the woods, overlooking the harbor

Pictures taken on October 16, 2015 on a just opened part of the Superior Hiking Trail.
It is a new trail that goes below the Skyline Parkway, below Enger Tower and the Enger Park Golf course
Note the mountain  bikers coming toward me; I saw a couple more of them, some runners and no bears.
Above, one of several new bridge/walkways on the new trail. Below is a bridge across Coffee Creek. I have found Coffee Creek in several places now as it winds down the hillside and into the St. Louis River.

The neighborhood

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. A nice view of the William A. Irvin, the blue bridge and the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge and beyond that, the largest lake in the world, Lake Superior. The Blue Bridge (Minnesota Slip Drawbridge) has been up for over a week, since the last tourist left town. And speaking of tourists, a tourist complained to me last summer that our William A. Irvin, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is being used as a billboard. And she was right. She told me she thought Duluth was a maritime city, but now she is not so sure.

Sara Summers found the sun and the J.B. Ford

The Heritage Marine tugs Nels J. (at left below) and Helen H. (above and on the right below) escorted the J. B. Ford on her last trip on October 9, 2015, going from her long time layup dock in Superior to the Azcon scrapyard in Duluth. The three vessels made the trip with the just rising sun making good shots a challenge but Sara Summers, a Park Ranger at the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center (the Marine Museum at the Duluth ship canal), was up to the task, as these two shots demonstrate.

Last trip for the J. B. Ford


J. B. Ford to be towed to Azcon scrapyard in Duluth

Update: As of now (11:10 am, October 8, 2015,  the J. B. Ford is set to be towed from its current location to the Azcon scrapyard on Friday morning, October 9, 2015 sometime after 8:00 am. If that changes, I will update here.

In for grain, out with coal

The Federal Asahi came in from the anchorage on Tuesday afternoon, September 29, 2015 to load grain at CHS 2 in Superior. This is her 7th visit to Duluth Superior since she was built in 2000 and her second trip this season; she was also here in May. Once in the harbor, she passed the Indiana Harbor, on her way out with 68,000 tons of  coal loaded at Midwest Energy Resources for the Detroit Edison power plant in St. Clair, Michigan.

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge lifts for 2 boats

On September 27, 2015, the Aerial Lift Bridge made a lift for 2 boats, the Tim S. Dool, arriving here with cement to discharge, and the Walter J. McCarthy, Jr., leaving with coal.

First signs of winter

The tourists are gone so the city only needs half of the Blue Bridge to take care of those left behind and below, you can already see the metalwork above the sidewalk that will light up our walk through the park. Bentleyville, our spectacular winter wonderland, is setting up for Christmas. And as their web site reminds us today, Sunday, September 27, 2015, there are only 55 days, 4 hours, 24 minutes and 13 seconds until Bentleyville opens.

A busy, beautiful day in Duluth Minnesota

(Click full screen icon at lower right of video screen) I decided to walk to work today; it was a beautiful day in Duluth Minnesota with a lot going on. I like trains and the folks at the North Shore Scenic Railroad were just getting started for the day. I looked behind the train and saw the apartment where I now live and just left.

Across the street, Pier B Resort is on schedule to open next June.

The Duluth Hot Air Balloon Festival was on but I could only find lots of people flying kites. They are waiting until late this afternoon for the balloons. Lake Superior Helicopters was there to provide a new way to see Duluth as well as check wind and weather for the Balloon folks.

The NorthShore Inline Marathon was finishing up as I walked to my office.

I found some fishing boats coming in for the day and behind them, the Walter J. McCarthy, Jr. was departing after a long, short term layup. She had coal for the Detroit Edison power plant in St. Clair, Michigan. Mr. McCarthy retired from his position as Chairman of the Board of Detroit Edison in 1990. He died on July 24, 2013.

Algoma Mariner with coal for Nova Scotia

The Algoma Mariner (above) departs Duluth on September 13, 2015 with 30,000 tons of coal for Nova Scotia. She was built in either 1979 or 2011. The Algoport (below) was built in 1979 and was to donate her after-end or stern  to a brand new forebody. This work was to be done in China so the Algoport was towed to China but sank in the China Sea in September, 2009 and never made it. A brand new after-end was built in China and connected to the new forebody making this boat (above), a brand new boat. But I always like to point out that the stern you see above should have been the stern of the Algoport you see below as she approached the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge on August 1, 2000.

Duluth comings and goings

The Buffalo arrived Duluth at 11:23 on Tuesday evening, September 8, 2015. Above, she departed under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge the next morning at 11:00. Below, she is turning in the harbor toward the bridge, on her way to Silver Bay to load iron ore pellets. She will take some of the pellets to the Cleveland Bulk Terminal located at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland. They will then move up the river to the Mittal steel plant to discharge the remainder.
Despite the Maltese flag, the Pilica (above and below) is owned by the Polish Steamship Company. She was built in Poland in 1999 and usually carries a Polish crew. She is loading grain at Riverland Ag (formerly Cargill) on this her 13th visit to the Twin Ports (arriving on September 7th). Time flies when you are getting old; I remember boarding the ship on May 23rd, 2000 when she had just been built and was making her first trip to the St. Lawrence Seaway. Fifteen years ago, it was a thrill to see such a brand new ship. Today, it is fun to welcome her as a seasoned veteran of the Duluth Superior grain trade.
Below, the American Century arrived Duluth on Tuesday evening, September 8, 2015 to load coal at Midwest Energy Resources in Superior. Just above, she departed the next morning  with 68,000 tons of low sulfur coal she will deliver to the St. Clair electrical generation plant of Detroit Edison.

The Vikingbank and Sea Bear come in to port together

The Vikingbank had been waiting at anchor for several days and came into port on Labor Day, September 7, 2015. This is her 6th trip to the Twin Ports since she was built in 2012. She was just here on June 14th this summer when she loaded beet pulp pellets; she will load the same cargo on this trip, taking it to Ireland where it will be used as animal feed.
In all ports in the world, a visiting ship is required to have a local pilot on board who knows the harbor and its many variations. The Sea Bear, the local pilot boat,  took a pilot out to the Vikingbank so she could come in to port. Here they both are returning to port.

Labor Day in Duluth – people, boats and good weather

The Mesabi Miner arrived in the Duluth ship canal around 4 this afternoon (Labor Day, September 7, 2015) and the Vikingbank arrived shortly after her. The Cason J. Callaway and the Presque Isle came in this morning. Still to come today: the Lee A. Tregurtha will be arriving and the Pilica is due in from the anchorage. Later, the Nordana Emilie and the Cason J. Callaway are expected to depart.

John G. Munson whistles a happy tune leaving Duluth

The John G. Munson departed Duluth on Tuesday afternoon, September 1, 2015, after loading iron ore pellets at the CN dock in West Duluth. It was her 13th trip to Duluth Superior this season. She made 20 trips last season. Listen to her whistle as she came under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge.

American Courage leaves for Silver Bay

The American Courage arrived Saturday evening with limestone to discharge at the Graymont dock in Superior. This morning (Sunday, August 30, 2015), she departed Duluth for Silver Bay to load iron ore pellets. She was built in 1979 as the Fred R. White Jr.  at Sturgeon Bay and is 636 feet long with 20 hatches that open into 5 cargo holds. She can load 23,800 tons of cargo.
She was originally named for a man who started work as an accountant in the operations department of Columbia Transportation Company in 1935. He held many leadership positions with the company. In June, 2006, the boat was sold by Oglebay Norton to American Steamship and given her current name. She made 9 trips here last year; this is her 3rd trip this season.

More wind turbine blades for Minnesota Power

HHL Tyne arrived under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge in the early evening of August 26, 2015 with her deck piled high with wind turbine blades.

UMD Marching band come to the Marine Museum

Today, August 22, 2015, the University of Minnesota Duluth Marching Band played two sets on the front lawn of the Marine Museum. I broadcast the concert live using Periscope on my cell phone. You can see it here, as long as you forgive my beginning attempt at using Periscope. I was also taking pictures while I held the cell phone and trying to find out how it was going at the same time. But I think the sound came through pretty good.
Go here to watch the video of the live broadcast; it will only be available here for 24 hours. Also, Periscope can only do portrait at this time and the band is set up for landscape, but enough apologies.

Alpena brings more cement to Duluth

The Alpena brought cement to Duluth Superior this morning (August 13, 2015) arriving in the Duluth ship canal at 10:30. This is her 7th trip here this season; she brought cement here 12 times last season. She has one of the best, and loudest, whistles on the Great Lakes. Click the Alpena link just above to listen.

More wind turbines in Duluth

The HHL Elbe arrived Wednesday afternoon, August 6, 2015 with wind turbine parts to discharge at the Port Terminal. Built in 2008, this is her first visit to the Twin Ports. When she completes discharging the wind turbine pieces, she will go over to CHS in Superior to load grain as her departing cargo.

Hon. James L. Oberstar departs Duluth

The Great Lakes freighter Hon. James L. Oberstar arrived Tuesday afternoon August 4, 2015 to load iron ore pellets at the CN dock in West Duluth. She departed Duluth late morning the next day (above). This was her 6th visit to the Twin Ports this season; she was here 17 times last year. On most of her trips, she brought limestone in and then loaded iron ore pellets, usually here but sometimes departing for North Shore Mining in Silver Bay.

Thomas the Train comes to Duluth