Archives for May 2009

Algocape greeted by sun and visitors

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The Algocape picked a nice sunny day at the end of May to make its first appearance in the Twin Ports this season. She was welcomed by perhaps the largest crowd so far this year at the Marine Museum in Canal Park. This is the Canadian flagged laker’s 69th trip to the Twin Ports since 1996. On many of those visits, it brought cement into the port but on this trip, it came in light and loaded iron ore pellets at the CN dock in West Duluth. Photo taken on May 30, 2009
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 05-31-2009

Party for Pere Marquette 41-Undaunted

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The barge Pere Marquette 41 arrived at the Hallett Dock on Thursday afternoon (above) ready to load a cargo of taconite rock, also called Mesabi hard rock by project sponsor Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) at UMD. A large group of reporters, port officials, and project members were at the dock to greet the vessel when it arrived. It was a celebration heralding a potential new business venture, using taconite rock from the Iron Range as road bed aggregate, in this case, in Chicago. Dock-side celebrations have been few and far between with diminished boat traffic and increased security measures. It was good for the port to pay attention to the tug and barge and good for the region that we were watching what many hope will be a new cargo going through the Twin Ports. Several people pointed out that more jobs was the bottom line in the project. Photo taken on May 29, 2009
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 05-30-2009

Big day at the Hallett Dock #5

pm20090529_6181The tug Undaunted pulled her barge, the Pere Marquette 41, into the Hallett Dock #5 in West Duluth on Thursday afternoon, May 28th. Both were making their first trip on Lake Superior and they are here to pick up the first cargo of taconite rock to be taken from Duluth.
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Reporters, cameras and project members all awaited the vessel as she backed into the dock.
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It is a project developed at the UMD Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) that is finding new ways to use taconite ore from the Iron Range. This rock has a very low level of iron content in it and would not be used to make pellets but it is an ideal material to serve as aggregate in making road surfaces. This rock is going to Chicago for a test run.
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Mike McCoshen, Hallett Dock President, is interviewed about the project
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Above, Peter Passi of the Duluth News Tribune interviews Ron Johnson from the Duluth Seaway Port Authority
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The taconite pile about to be loaded is seen just behind an anxious audience. Behind the pile, the ship loader (blue) is slowly moving into position.
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pm20090529_6246There were two front-end loaders picking up the taconite rock and dropping it in the hopper that fed the conveyor belt up to the barge. Above, foreground, you see one of them picking up a load at the pile while the other one, top right, is about to dump the rock into the hopper.Taconite is moving up the ship loader conveyor and into the vessel’s cargo hold. The hard work begins and for the rest of us, it is time to go home.
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Hollyhock arrives to assist Alder

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We have three Coast Guard cutters in Duluth and no ice. It’s a good thing since the three ships are not in the best of shape. The Mackinaw arrived a couple weeks ago and is currently up on blocks in the Fraser Shipyards dry dock. The Coast Guard cutter Hollyhock arrived in Duluth on Wednesday (above). It was expected a little later since it has an appointment in the same dry dock after the Mackinaw gets out, probably late in June. It is here now to help the ailing Alder with some buoy tending. Both the Alder and the Hollyhock are Juniper class cutters, the Hollyhock was launched in early 2003; the Alder in 2004. The Alder will undergo repairs later this summer although the exact time and place have not been determined. Photo taken on May 27, 2009
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 05-28-2009

Pere Marquette and Undaunted arrive Duluth

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The Pere Marquette 41 and tug Undaunted arrived in Duluth late this afternoon (above). They are here to load taconite rock that will be taken to Chicago to be used as a surface treatment on roads. It may also be used in the manufacture of cement. This is an entirely new use for taconite taken directly out of the ground. Usually, we receive iron ore pellets from the Iron Range that have been processed in large ball mills that take ground-up taconite and combine it with other ingredients including limestone and turn it into pellets that eventually get fed to giant blast furnaces in steel mills such as US Steel in Gary.

H. Lee White departing Twin Ports

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The H. Lee White, seen above going under the Lift Bridge last October, will be here today with a cargo of limestone loaded in Calcite, Michigan. After discharging that cargo, it will move over to Midwest Energy Resources to load 30,000 tons of coal for Marquette, leaving sometime early afternoon. It will then return to the Twin Ports on Saturday for another 30,000 tons of coal, this time to Milwaukee. The White has loaded iron ore pellets in Two Harbors for Gary several times this year. It has also made a couple trips to Silver Bay from Midwest Energy with coal. Unlike most US freighters, she has been known to move through the Welland Canal that connects Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The Welland was built to allow ship traffic to go around Niagara Falls. Photo taken on October 18, 2008
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 05-27-2009

G.L. Ostrander exits Duluth with Integrity

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On Sunday morning, the tug G.L. Ostrander arrived in Duluth pushing the barge Integrity that was loaded with a cargo of cement. On Monday afternoon, the pair departed the Twin Ports by way of a very windy Duluth ship canal (above). There was a line for the coal dock on Monday that will probably last through today. Both the Canadian Progress and Canadian Olympic were at anchor waiting on the Paul R. Tregurtha on Monday. Both likely came in, loaded coal and departed by first light today. That left the coal dock for the Indiana Harbor unless the American Mariner, expected last night with limestone, discharged that cargo and got over to the coal dock first.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 05-26-2009

Undaunted brings the Pere Marquette to Duluth

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Thanks to Frank Frisk for the picture above, taken on the St. Clair River.

I don’t know which is more interesting; the history of the barge Pere Marquette and tug Undaunted, or the trip they are making to Duluth on Thursday, May 28th. I refer you to the article by  Brian Ferguson  on the Boatnerd for the long and illustrious story. You will learn in the article that "… the Marquette has hauled anything practically everywhere." That pretty much covers it but the details are fascinating.
   On this trip, the everywhere is the Hallett Dock in West Duluth. The anything is taconite rock. The destination is Chicago, but not to a steel mill. This taconite will be used as a road surface. Some of the shipment will also go to a Chicago area cement and concrete manufacturer because the silica and iron ore in taconite are major ingredients in the manufacturing of Portland cement. I refer you to a press release from Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) at the University of  Minnesota at Duluth, reprinted below.

Iron Range to ship new product to Chicago via tug/barge

DULUTH, Minn. – Taconite rock, found in overabundance on Minnesota’s Iron Range, makes an extremely durable and high-performing aggregate, according to research at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI). It has been used extensively in the northland, but this week it will be transported from Duluth to Chicago via the Great Lakes, testing its “shipability” and potential as a new, readily available aggregate product for other areas.

   Chicago’s local aggregate sources are primarily limestone-based, a softer rock than taconite. Iron Range aggregate could meet their needs for a tougher surface treatment on roads. That could mean longer lasting roads for the greater Chicago area, less road construction and less overall cost. NRRI’s research also shows that hard taconite rock has excellent friction characteristics for safer driving conditions when applied to the road surface. Some of the shipment will also go to a Chicago area cement and concrete manufacturer because the silica and iron ore in taconite are major ingredients in the manufacturing of Portland cement.
   Millions of tons of Iron Range taconite rock are available in northern Minnesota, without the need to create or expand gravel quarries in busy urban areas where aggregate is needed.
   “The logistics of moving the aggregate in a cost effective way has been the tough part,” said NRRI geologist Larry Zanko, principal investigator on the project. “But the tug and barge system offers promise for efficient transportation.”
   The vintage barge Pere Marquette 41 and tug Undaunted have been in operation on the Great Lakes since 1997, but this is her first trip on Lake Superior. The barge can carry 5,000 net tons of dry bulk or 240,000 cubic feet of cargo. Depending on weather, it will take four to five days to move the 5,000 tons of aggregate rock to Chicago.
   “Not a single taconite pellet is being produced right now on the Iron Range,” said Zanko. “This highlights the importance of tapping into taconite rock as a more durable, more sustainable, and more energy efficient alternative to lesser-quality crushed stone, especially as the nation’s transportation infrastructure needs serious upgrading.”
   Many port businesses are excited about the possibilities in a new product from the Iron Range. Hallett Dock Company hopes to attract customers that can take advantage of the movement by bringing their bulk products to Duluth on the up-bound trip, according to Hallett Dock President Mike McCoshen.
   “We’re unique because we’re not product-specific like the coal docks, ore docks or grain elevators,” said McCoshen. “We’re more of a bulk commodities boutique, and can ship 500,000 tons to 5,000 tons, like this project. We hope there is potential for the long-term on this one.”
   The Duluth Seaway Port Authority anticipates that, if demand for taconite aggregate grows, it could eventually be carried on larger vessels at an even lower cost per ton.    “This shipment of taconite aggregate is a great example of how the cost and fuel efficiencies of waterborne transportation can open up new, niche markets around the Great Lakes,” noted Ron Johnson, the Port Authorities’ trade development director.
   Earlier this month, the Lake Carriers’ Association reported that Great Lakes iron ore shipments are down 70 percent from last year at this time because of the economic downturn. A new potential product from the Iron Range is a welcome bit of good news.
   “For those of us in the shipping business, this is a ray of sunshine in a cloudy sky,” said Pere Marquette Operations Manager Chuck Leonard.
   Laurentian Aggregate of Duluth worked closely with NRRI and was instrumental in facilitating this shipment. Funding for NRRI’s aggregate research is provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce (Economic Development Administration), Iron Range Resources, Blandin Foundation, Minnesota Power, Minnesota Technology, Inc., and the University of Minnesota Permanent Trust Fund.
   The mission of NRRI is to foster the economic development of Minnesota’s natural resources in an environmentally sound manner to promote private sector employment. —end—

G.L. Ostrander enters Duluth with Integrity

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For many years, the Alpena has been used by Lafarge North America to bring cement to the Twin Ports, averaging about 15 trips a year. It has not been back since its first trip here this season at the end of March. Shortly after that, it was placed in temporary layup. On Sunday, the tug G.L. Ostrander arrived in Duluth with the barge Integrity loaded with cement (above). It is the first cement delivery from Lafarge since that last trip by the Alpena. The tug barge combination is owned and operated by Lafarge. The Integrity was built in 1996 and was here twice that year and twice in 2006. This is its 5th trip to the Twin Ports. Tug/barge combinations are less expensive to operate than Great Lakes freighters due in part to lower manpower requirements. That may be one reason why Lafarge switched vessels in a year when the construction industry is not doing well. Photo taken on May 24, 2009
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 05-25-2009

Lift Your Spirits in Duluth

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Back in May, 2005, Duluth had a birthday party for the Aerial Lift Bridge. One project gathered a bunch of local artists to create unique works of art from identical sculptures of the Bridge. Christie Eliason, upper left in the collage above, took up the challenge, creating “Lift Your Spirits in Duluth.” Her mother, Linda Glisson, bought the piece and then donated it to the Marine Museum where it now sits in front of the main door. The sculpture was an immediate hit with kids and especially people with cameras. On Sunday, May 24th, four years later, Linda came down to give ‘Lift Your Sprits in Duluth’ a cleaning and some touch up painting. Christie, an aspiring children’s book author/illustrator, full time teacher and mother of 4, is always glad for some help. She has a story for each image.

Smile for the camera, Algosoo

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The Algosoo came into port on Saturday morning to load 30,000 tons of low sulfur western coal brought here by train from coal mines in Montana and Wyoming. The Canadian flagged boat departed for Ontario Power Generation on Saturday afternoon (above). The American Spirit is still expecting to load its first cargo of the season and depart sometime today. It will take iron ore pellets from the CN Dock in West Duluth to steel mills in Gary, Indiana. Photo taken on May 23, 2009
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 05-24-2009