Ryerson moves to a new home in Duluth

The Edward L. Ryerson was moved this morning from her berth at Fraser Shipyards by two Heritage Marine tugs, the Nels J. on her stern and the Helen H. on the bow. Below, they are moving under the Blatnik Bridge and out of Howard’s Pocket. At the far right is the John J. Boland, still residing at the shipyard.
Above and below, the Helen H. is handling the difficult job of maneuvering the boat between two bridge supports
They pulled the Ryerson from her slip at Fraser, stern first. Here they are starting to turn her around so they can bring her into her new home bow first.
From Google Earth, we see the short route taken. The tugs pulled the Ryerson away from her slip at Fraser Shipyards, under the Blatnik Bridge, around CHS and into the CHS slip, at the Barko Hydraulics, just across from CHS. 
Above, we are looking from behind the CHS elevator. Below, the tugs are bringing her into the slip bow first. The CHS towers are now on the right.
Above, the Ryerson bow is secure to the dock and the lines from the Helen H.  have been taken up. At the stern of the boat, the Nels J. is still connected and is pulling the stern of the Ryerson toward the Barko Hydraulics dock, her new home.
Below, the Helen H. is now gently helping to move the whole boat next to the dock while the Nels J. is still pulling the Ryerson toward her new dock.
The Nels J., no longer connected by rope to the Ryerson, moves to the side to help the Helen H. move the boat closer to her dock, where line handlers on the other side will tie her securely to the dock.
Almost done! While the Helen H. pulls away and prepares to go home, the Nels J. is still providing a little push to the Ryerson.
Mission accomplished; time to go home; I am exhausted


  1. I I wish they get rid of the ugly William A. Irvin and put the Ryerson in Duluth.

  2. Louis Jefferson says:

    My husband was a wheelsman on your Ryerson voyage. He also tells stories about being 3 hours ahead of the Fitzgerald in that Nov. 1975 storm. He remembers your father-in-law and Marie.

    • Lana Leeger says:

      I might have met your husband on our voyage. John made sure that we were introduced to everyone on the ship. I know that John ran a tight ship and made sure that the Ryerson was always in tip-top shape. He was a very strict captain ! But, put him around his grand-children and he was a bowl of jello. 🙂
      If I remember correctly, Marie’s husband also worked on the boat. Marie made the most wonderful desserts and also helped with the other part of the meals.

  3. Goderich citizen says:

    I hate to think of the demurrage costs to the owners to keep the Ryerson tied to a dock. She’s definitely the most beautiful ship in the Great Lakes!

  4. scott davis says:

    Did you get to the engine room at all? I sailed on the ryerson in the early 60’s as both a fireman then oiler until 1963. It was a experience I hav never forgot. I would sur like to take a trip one more time in my life.

  5. Every time I go to Duluth I see my hero,”American Victory”.
    The first time I went by and seen the empty slip,I felt a terrible void.
    Unless I have missed something media wise I Think She should have more recognition for the exploits She endured.
    I have not heard of any”Lakers” that have shot down an enemy plane,taken a direct hit from an enemy bomb or torpedo,and survived.
    Details of the”American Victory” (appropriately named) would be very much appreciated. Thank You

  6. Holly,
    The trip on the Ryerson was one that I will never forget. My father-in-law, John Leeger, called us one day in May of 1976 and asked if we would like to go on Ryerson’s next trip. Well, we had about 3 days to find babysitters for our 4 kids and for my husband to get time off from work.

    The Ryerson has 4 guest rooms. These were usually used for the big executives of the companies that were Inland Steel’s customers. Lucky for us, the Ryerson had no guests scheduled so we were able to go.

    We sailed out of Indiana Harbor to Duluth where the Ryerson was loaded with taconite.

    The guest rooms were professionally decorated and updated about every 5 years. Each guest room had their own bath. After our first night, we ate breakfast in the Captain’s dining room. When we returned to our room, we discovered that the porter had changed our sheets , towels and even replaced the little bars of soap with new ones.

    The food was wonderful! Everything made right on the ship. Even the bread was made from scratch. And I must say, the breakfast was delicious! We ate most of our meals in the Captain’s dining room. I was confused at first because I could not figure out how the porter knew that we needed more coffee or that we were ready for dessert. My father-in-law finally showed me the button that was attached under the table at his seat. He only had to push the button and someone would come running. LOL. Marie, the baker, was the wife of the 1st mate. On our anniversary she baked us a beautiful cake.

    The crew had their own dining room which had a kitchen stocked with food…anything they wanted to eat was there!

    Entertainment on the ship was limited. We hit golf balls off the deck, and spent a lot of time in the guest lounge. The guest lounge had a small kitchen completely stocked with deli meats, bread, fresh fruit and snacks. The lounge had lots of jig-saw puzzles, games, a record player and many records. My husband thought it was funny to keep playing the record, ” The Wreck of the Fitzgerald”, because I was a little nervous knowing that the Fitzgerald was the same size as the Ryerson.

    The weather was beautiful! I think we only had rain one day. When we arrived in Duluth, we were able to get off the ship and shop for a couple of hours before we boarded again and started back to Indiana Harbor.

    We also spent lots of time in the pilot house. John, my father-in-law would call us to inform us that we would be going thru the locks soon, or going under the Big Mac or just to invite us up when he was in the pilot house. It was interesting to know that the Captain really only has to be in the pilot house when there is a problem or when they go through the locks or through the river or bad weather.

    My father-in-law ran a tight ship. He insisted that the Ryerson be kept in tip-top shape. But he was also fun. One night my husband and I were walking on the deck looking at the sunset and all of a sudden that wonderful steam whistle blew! I must have jumped 3 feet ! Evidently, he was in the pilot house and saw us walking and just decided to blow the whistle. I guess everyone in the pilot house was laughing when I jumped.

    Before John was captain of the Ryerson, he was captain of the Sykes and before that on one of the Blocks, can’t remember which one. He became captain of the Ryerson when Jimmy Shoesmith retired.

    • holly jorgenson says:

      this is wonderful…thank you lana!

      • Wow…what a wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing it here!

      • I am glad you enjoyed it Holly !

        I DID forget to mention that The Ryerson was out on Lake Superior the night that the Fitzgerald sank. My father-in-law didn’t talk about the storm much but, my mother-in-law was on the boat with him that trip.

        My father-in-law always kept track of the weather and he knew the storm was coming. So he dropped anchor in some small bay that he knew of. According to my mother-in-law,John was in the pilot house and heard the may day call but, could do nothing. Lucy, my mother-in-law said she was in the captain’s quarters , on the bed, praying and clinging on for dear life!

  7. I think the Ryerson is (was?) on of the most beautiful boats to sail on the Great Lakes. I hope to see her sail again!

  8. Butch--- Port Wing, WI says:

    Thanks for the info. and the great pic;s. As others ask????
    where did “Fast Eddy” go.
    Now we know and Thanks again

  9. Mike Johnson says:

    Thank you for the beautiful shots in a well covered photo essay.

  10. Some answers to the posts below: It is not likely we will see either of these two ships back in service unless the demand for steel goes way up like it did in 2006. That was really the only reason the Ryerson was in service from 2006-2009. If you take a look at the entire life of the Ryerson, you will notice she has been laid up almost as much as she ha sailed. She has served most of her career as an “ace in the hole” for her company. She will return to service if the steel demand returns. The American Victory is laid up simply because her owners have too many lakeboats! American Steamship got their hands on the old Oglebay Norton boats and now they have too many and not quite enough demand. Talk has circulated of the Valor, Victory, and Fortitude being sold off to Great Lakes Fleet, Interlake, or Lower Lakes Towing, but I don’t think that ASC is willing to sell to their competitors. In that case, it is very true but horribly unfortunate that these three steamers are probably scrap heap. As far as self-unloader conversion, the Ryerson was built with holds that were boxed in design. A conveyer system requires a different hold design; one with sloping sides. Remember, when this ship was built in 1960, the Inland Steel wanted to have the most possible space. Self unloader systems were not really “in” yet, so they did not really think of it. Her basic task was going to be (and still is for that matter) moving ore to Indiana Harbor where the huellet unloader would scoop out the iron ore. If they owners of the Ryerson would decide to convert her, it would first of all be a very costly conversion, because they would basically have to rebuild her holds. This would also cut the amount she could carry by about 1/3. At her current capacity of 27,500, taking away a third of her capacity would give her about an 18,000 ton capacity. The owners have decided to save the Ryerson for rush hours and use the Wilfred Sykes and Joseph L. Block regularly. My guess is the Ryerson will sail again- the question “when” remains unanswered.

    • Jill in Alabama says:

      Thanks, Andrew!

    • Bill Lappalainen says:

      Thank you! That info was a real treat.

    • I was fortunate to have taken a 5 day “cruise” on the Ryerson back in the 70’s when my father-in-law was the Captain of the Ryerson. Only 3 women on board…my mother-in-law, the chef’s wife and me. Such a beautiful ship!! And such great hospitality ! An adventure I will never forget!

      • The adventure was going through the locks, spending my 15th wedding anniversary on a “cruise” and having my father-in-law call us in the middle of the night telling us to wake up and go to the pilot house so we could witness passing under the Big Mac Bridge!

        • I feel that I was very fortunate to have been able to sail on the Ryerson. The guest rooms were fantastic! We ate all our meals in the Captains’ dining room. Bread and Danish made from scratch! The small kitchen/bar off the guest lounge was well stocked!

          Only problem was that I found out real soon that I was not allowed to sun bathe in a 2-piece swim suit. I tried that the 2nd day out and my father-in-law told me that “this is not a good idea”…too many men on the ship.

          • holly jorgenson says:

            Lana, we would love to hear more about that trip…i have seen the ryerson several times in superior, but would love to see her sail again. through your memories would be great!

    • Who owns the Sykes, Ryerson and Joe Block now? I sure hope the Ryerson sails again. Still the most beautiful ship!!

  11. Jill in Alabama says:

    Great pictures, Ken! Thanks for sharing them with us. Wish all of us could have been there to see it in person! Did the American Victory get settled in okay? Love that boat, too.

  12. Thank you for posting all of these pictures. Title is misleading though. She is now docked by Barko Hydraulics which is in Superior, WI.

  13. Thanks for the great photos. Those “little” tugs are amazing. I especially like the “heading home” photo. Job well done, Nels J. and Helen H.

  14. The fourth picture makes it look like the Ryerson is almost as tall as the bridge.

  15. David Coleman says:

    Thank you so much for posting these wonderful pictures. I surely hope that she sails again, and if not she becomes a museum. She is the prettiest girl at the dance.

  16. Tristin (loves ships) says:

    Hopefully this is good news for these boats

  17. Paul Badovinac says:

    A beautiful and proud laker. i hope she has some life left in her.


  18. Bill Lappalainen says:

    Anybody know why the Ryerson was never made into a self-unloader?

  19. The Ryerson and the Victory were only moved because they are rebuilding the dock walls at Fraser shipyard. They were simply in the way. Although the future of these two remains in question, the moves this week have nothing to do with any new plans for either boat.

  20. Dotti Caldwell says:

    Many thanks for your wonderful pics of this.

  21. Paul Sando says:

    I hope this doesn’t mean the end for the Ryerson. She is such a distinctive looking boat.

  22. Holly Jorgenson says:

    Construction at Fraser…

  23. Brian Peterson says:

    I saw they moved the American Victory as well yesterday. Why the moves?

  24. I wonder if this means the end for the Ryerson?

  25. Holly Jorgenson says:

    Awesome and eerie…

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