New Great Lakes Trader page


Twenty years old: Duluth Shipping News

dailyfirstpage daily2ndpage2015
I started my 20th year publishing the daily summer edition of the Duluth Shipping News today (Friday, May 22, 2015). Click to see a PDF. For more information about Duluth Shipping News, go here.

Seems like only yesterday

The article above about the Duluth Shipping News, and its publisher custodian  and head writer, appeared in the Winter, 2014-15 edition of the Port Authority’s quarterly magazine, North Star Port. Click the pic for a larger, more readable version.

Duluth Shipping News on the air

fox21newsaug122014Dana Thayer, at Fox 21 in Duluth, was going to come down to the World Headquarters of the Duluth Shipping News on Monday (August 11, 2014) and interview me for her show, Sunrise at Seven) but the CSL Assiniboine decided to depart backwards, and danafox21I could not afford to miss such an event right outside my window so I stopped by to visit her on her show this morning. And to thank her since I would not have been down here early enough to get the video if I was not going to meet Dana.

Julie, ace cook and photographer on the Martin

My friend Julie Fletcher, the 2nd cook on the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin, took pictures of us as they came in through the Duluth ship canal on June 2, 2014. But I got pictures of her taking pictures of us with her odd looking camera. It is hard to take a picture of someone and wave at them at the same time. (I had told a bunch of folks waiting on the pier for the boat that my friend Julie would be waving, and suggested they wave back while yelling out her name. They did, and several minutes later, when she sent me her pictures, she added this line, “The guys were laughing , i told them that’s my fan club yelling my name”
Later in the day, actually, very early the next morning, my friendly associate Holly and I paid a visit to Tim Dayton, captain on the Paul R. Tregurtha. Holly, under the watchful eye of Captain Dayton, is at the wheel here,  but we were tied up at the Port Terminal getting fuel so no one was injured.  Laughing out loud

Fame is very, very fleeting

ken3-14-2014 9-47-10 PM
People have complained to me that they never saw me on the NBC Nightly News tonight. For all those who blinked while my 2 1/2 second ‘interview’ passed by, you can see the whole report here. I meanwhile am trying to figure where my 14 minutes and 57 1/2 seconds of fame that I have left will be.

NBC News with Brian Williams, tonight at 5:30 PM CDT

140313-ice-cutter-alder-02-7p_eb2ca08d95ecbb792b5a5449cf6610fe.nbcnews-ux-800-600An NBC News with Brian Williams team was here this week to do a story on ice on Lake Superior and the beginning of the shipping season. It is now scheduled to be on tonight, Friday, March 14, 2014 at 5:40 Central Daylight time. Hopefully, they will not forget to include all my expert commentary, or at least a couple seconds of my expert commentary. But most of all, I hope Mr Putin will hold off on anything big until NBC News has fully covered the ice in Duluth tonight. They took a trip on the Alder and even talked to an ice fisherman. He said he “… was retired, so I don’t even know what day it is.” I knew what day it was but his visuals were better. We will see who makes the cut.

NBC News comes to Duluth to see ice

samira03122014222The long, cold, snowy, icy winter has attracted a lot of attention this ‘spring.’ We humans may have seen the worst of it but March brings out the next victims, the big ships that start every season in the Great Lakes battling ice. For better or worse, at this time every year, Duluth gets her fair share of attention, sitting as we do, at the western end of the lakes and just south of our border with Canada. It attracted the attention of NBC News, that is, NBC News with Brian Williams. nbcnewsNot long after, Samira Puska, NBC News producer working out of Chicago (above, right), found herself heading up a team to come to Duluth to ‘get the story.’ After days and days of below zero temperatures, she and her team arrived in Duluth on a bright sunny day with the temperature in the 50’s. Photographically speaking, this is not Duluth at her best; big piles of dirty snow, water water everywhere as the high temps started kicking down winter’s leftovers and sending the whole mess into the sewers.Samira and her team talked to some ice fishermen and they then found their way into my office. Of course, the ice fishermen filled them in with most of the story since they sit on a chair on the ice, and drop a line into the water. Water and ice and something to eat; what else did they need.
The Alder took them out to see the ice on Wednesday morning, March 12, 2014. After a turn or two in front of the Lift Bridge (above), they went down the Superior channel and out into Lake Superior.
I told them anything else they needed to know about ice on Lake Superior, then suggested they go home write the story and send it to my old friend Brian in New York. Brian could introduce the story, move next to the fisherman for a minute or so and then maybe 5 or 10 minutes with me to finish it off. nbcnews03122014212
They had other plans. Turns out they were talking to a lot of other people around town. I talked to them on Tuesday afternoon, March 11, when the temperature was over 50 degrees. Happily for them, it dropped into the single digits when they boarded the Alder for their trip out into the lake the next morning. As you can see here, I went over to welcome Samira and her 3 team members just behind her, when they walked off the Alder.



A visitor to Duluth asked me what that big red thing was that was sitting in front of the Vista/DECC. I told her it was a buoy. She asked me why it wouldn’t sink since it was made of steel. I told her the Alpena comes here; it is made of steel and it is filled with cement, and it doesn’t sink. I thought that might have resolved the issue but she asked me to go outside and take a closer look. And now I am giving you the same opportunity to answer her questions.

buoy2-20130901_0073What are those 4 red, upside-down bowls, and what are those rods hanging down from the top; each one placed opposite one of the bowls? That seems like a buoy3-20130901_0075clanger to me that would make noise, like a bell. She asked why a buoy out in the middle of the lake somewhere, or anywhere, needed to make noise.

buoy4-20130901_0068Then I noticed some lettering, and told her, “Oh yes, that is a G42-03.” That did not satisfy her either. So now I ask you viewers if you know the answers to her questions, including who put it there and why don’t they put an explanation on it so I don’t have to be bothered with these silly questions that I don’t know the answer to.

Please support our advertisers

This is the second page to all 100,000 Duluth Shipping News daily papers this summer. Please stop in and support our loyal advertisers when you are here watching boats. Most of them have been with me for many years. Click here to see page 2 pdf

Duluth Shipping News starts 18th season!

Spring has sprung, the hot weather is no where to be found, but the 18th season for the summer, daily edition of the Duluth Shipping News was berthed at ProPrint, my lovable printer in Duluth who presented me with 100,000 pages that I have to fill between now and Labor Day. That’s press man Duc Vo making a last check on color and  supreme sales person and advisor Jeanne Carson next to him. I thank them both and Pro Print for their help and for a great job. Now bring on summer! Click here to see the Sunday, May 26th edition

Picasso, Monet, Gauguin, Matisse and Newhams

Empty spaces on the wall mark the spot were works of art by dutchartakenPicasso, Monet, Gauguin, Matisse and Newhams were stolen. At right, the empty space where Henri Matisse’s painting “Reading Girl in White and Yellow” was hanging at the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands before it was stolen on Tuesday.
dsnpicstaken20121015_6103At left, the empty spaces show where photographs from the Duluth Shipping News private collection where taken last Friday. In all the thief took 15 matted pictures.
(Our thanks to the New York Times for the picture above. No thanks to them for leaving me out of the story.)

Last, for this season, daily summer edition

Today, Labor Day, 2012, is the last issue I publish of this season’s daily Duluth Shipping News so I thought I would share it with the world. It is a two page paper. dsnpdf4Both pages are pre-printed before the season (116,000 pages, both sides, in color, by ProPrint) with a nice big hole in the front side that I fill in each day with that day’s schedule and stories about the boat traffic for the day. Click on the two links above to take a look. Don’t forget page 2; those are more of the nice folks who help support the Duluth Shipping News. Page 1 here.

And Page 2 here.

Marietje Marsilla arrives Duluth on 1st visit

msgfromcaptmarietjeAfter two days at anchor off the Duluth piers, the Marietje Marsilla came into port, happily with me aboard. Above, we are approaching the ship in the local pilot  boat, the Sea Bear. Below, we are approaching the Duluth ship canal before turning up the Duluth harbor to the Port Terminal to begin loading wood pulp. (Click image at left for a message to the people of the USA from the Captain of the Marietje Marsilla)

Dick Bibby turns 90

Dick Bibby is 90 years old today. He has never stopped making friends anywhere he goes, and after 90 years, that is a lot of friends. We had a party for him on Friday. Bill Saarinen’s father was a captain on many boats including the Ernest T. Weir, a Hanna boat where Bibby was the agent. Bill grew up and spent two years on the lakes including a stint on the Weir. Before he grew up, he would be at home waiting for his dad to come home. His mother would call Dick when she was not sure where the boat was (back in the days of no internet, cells phone et al). Dick always found the boat, and called back to tell the family, one of thousands of calls Dick made and still makes to keep in touch and help out. That is Bill in the silver hair, lower middle, handing a special hat to Mr. Bibby. Saarinen came up from his home in the UP, one of many to show up and surprise Mr. Bibby. Click picture for larger version and click here to see the Friday special edition of  the Duluth Shipping News: 2012daily0601bibby

Pro Print runs off 100,000 Duluth Shipping News sheets

…  now I will fill in the blanks for the next 100 days, starting Friday. That’s press man Duc Vo making a last check on color and  supreme sales person and advisor Jeanne Carson next to him. I thank them both and Pro Print for their help and for a great job. Now bring on summer!

Duluth Shipping News Interview

The Duluth Shipping News has finally hit the big time; we were the subject for an Anne Kunkel Journalism project at UMD recently. Check it out below.

Anne is in her third year at the University of Minnesota Duluth with a major in Journalism and minor in Communication.  Besides school, she works a full time job and interns a few hours a week at a Bridal Magazine.  Outside of work she likes to be outdoors in the sun or snow, and travel.  She looks forward to getting married in June, and starting a career in paper and/or broadcast journalism.

Tufty Here

The Tufty came into port this afternoon  (Saturday, November 5, 2011).

Happy Birthday to Statue of Liberty

I have a live web cam pointed at the Lift Bridge so we can watch the ships that come and go under it, but there is probably only a ship in the picture 10 to 20 minutes a day. While you can see traffic going over the bridge statlibertytorchcamoct282011most all the time, we can already see traffic and don’t need a web cam to watch. The folks in New York City have done me one better, or worse. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886, just 125 years ago today.
In honor of her birthday, they have placed a live web cam up on the torch of the Statue of Liberty, looking down. At least our bridge, opened 20 years later, goes up and down; I have not heard of the Statue of Liberty moving at all in her alderstatenislandferry240207-2--035125 years of life. I captured this picture from the torch cam on Friday evening on her birthday. Besides the torch cam, they also have a crown cam and a live streaming view of New York harbor from the torch.
satenislandferryatmerinete240207-2--012But Ken, why are you writing this in the Duluth Shipping News? Glad you asked! The best way to see the Statue of Liberty live, if a statue is live at all, is by going on a trip on the Staten Island Ferry, perhaps on the one called the Guy V. Molinari.
I first guymolinarisaw her while she was being built at Marinette Marine in Wisconsin. She sat right next to our Coast Guard cutter Alder when she was launched at the same ship yard on Feb 7, 2004. In the picture here, (above left) the Alder is still on the rails, about 24 hours away from her launch. The cutter Mobile Bay is out breaking some ice and the cutter Sequoia Bay is next to her and next to her is the Staten Island ferry, specifically the Guy V. Molinari. Connection made.

16th season for the Duluth Shipping News

I am forced to work hard, like the rest of the world, for only two weeks a year, those being the two before Memorial Day, the traditional start to the summer season here. That is when I sell advertising for the summer edition of the Duluth Shipping News. No fun but happily, I have faithful supporters who keep me going every year. Then, I have to design the paper on my computer and send it to the printer, this year The Duluth Shipping News, first summer issue of 2011Pro Print. The picture shows the display end of the press they used to print 100,000 sheets in color; one side filled with notes from those faithful supporters mentioned above and the other side with a couple more supporter notes and a header and footer for me. The picture shows the first one to come off the press; my autograph on it says it is great, get me 99,999 more and deliver them to World Headquarters down by the Lift Bridge! That’s supreme sales person and advisor Jeanne Carson next to the press man Duc Vue. I thank them both and Pro Print for their help and for the great job. This year’s issue is on heavier and whiter paper. I at least am real excited about that.  I also created a PDF of my first issue which you can check out here. I deliver about 1,000 copies a day until Labor Day. I only have 99 days to go!

Go out to meet Blacky

20110419_2015The ship’s name might have been Blacky but my knuckles were white. Luckily all I had to do was keep out of the water (even when I was looking up at it) and take pictures. I had two choices, go out on the deck of the Sea Bear, take pictures and fall in the water, or sit inside and hold on. Guess which I took.
All foreign flagged vessels that come to Duluth are required to have a pilot on board while the ship is in US or Canadian waters. One of Captain Ed Montgomery’s many jobs is transferring the pilot out to or in from the anchorage in his pilot boat, Sea Bear, the mainstay of his company, Sea Service, LLC. Today (April 19, 2011), the Cyprus flagged Blacky arrived off the Duluth piers. Often, a ship will drop anchor out there and Captain Montgomery will take the Sea Bear out to pick up the pilot so he can spend some time at home rather than staying on the ship until it came in (in this case at least a couple days from now). I took the above picture from inside the cabin of the Sea Bear. That’s Captain Dann Edholm’s steady hand on the wheel. He did a great job handling the boat in very heavy seas.
The first task all foreign flagged vessels have when they arrive in port is to meet, on the ship, with a variety of local officials including the ship’s agent, a local stevedore and customs officials. That meeting is usually held while the ship is at anchor but with Lake Superior kicking up a heavy current, the Blacky came into the inner harbor for that meeting, after which the boat went back out to the anchorage to await the next trip in when she will load grain.
The pilot, in this case Captain Shawn McKenzie, got on at the Soo and brought the ship into the harbor today. Since a pilot has to be on board whenever the ship is under way, he stayed on when the ship went back out to the anchorage.
I left my warm dry office and went out to take some pictures of the Blacky and found the Sea Bear lurking about waiting for the bigger ship to pass under the bridge on the way to the anchorage. Captain Montgomery asked if I wanted to go out to the Blacky with them, and of course, I said yes, totally forgetting that the Blacky came into the harbor because of the heavy seas. I don’t get sea sick, even in very heavy seas; I just get scared.
Usually, the rope ladder (above) is used , but with heavy seas, the gangway was lowered.
And he did a good job bringing Sea Bear next to the Blacky so McKenzie could climb down and ‘jump’ into the pilot boat. His luggage came first; I even helped with that job. Then he took the ‘elevator’ down from the Blacky to the Sea Bear.
20110419_2089We returned and they dropped me off just beyond the bridge. Montgomery helped me off the boat; that’s him standing on the bow of the Sea Bear (below) as the boat drove off into the sunset and I ran inside and back to my safe warm office.

Hello to Afrodite

Captain Stilianos Mamouzelos will be taking his ship, Olympic Miracle, under the Lift Bridge sometime late this afternoon or early evening (Monday, October 4, 2010). They loaded a cargo of wheat to take to Italy, probably the port of Ravenna. Of course going under the Lift Bridge puts him front and center on the Duluth Shipping News web cam. Watch the ship depart Duluth and try to catch the Captain waving hello to his wife, Afrodite. She will be watching from their home on the Greek island of Limnos in the northern part of the Aegean Sea. Above, the Captain is seen just outside the ship’s bridge on Monday afternoon.

Changing the page


I am in the middle of moving this website/blog to a new server that will make this a faster page. I will also be making changes to the look of the page and sometimes just experimenting with stuff. I hope for you patience while I work on this. In the meantime, I will be posting more here with the shipping season about to start. You can also get updates by following the Duluth Shipping News on Twitter. Click on the  friendly bird to sign up.

Summer daily edition of Duluth Shipping News getting ready to print at Service Printers in Duluth

Friday, May 22nd signals the return of the daily edition of the Duluth Shipping News, being printed now (Thursday) at Service Printers. Above, the first page is at left, the back page at right. I will fill in the white space on the front side each day with schedule information, pictures and stories about the boats coming to Duluth Superior this summer. Below, the clean white paper will fly through their offset press, each sheet has 8 pages of the newsletter. They turn them over and do it again on the other side, cut it and bring it over later today (Thursday); about 116,000 copies for 110 editions this summer. It make me tired just thinking about it.

Back to normal, almost maybe

I have been trying to combine the web page at and the blog at for several days now. Each day, I make some progress. I hope you will be patient with me; I think the blog is very usable now; the web page may take a day or more. The blog will now be located at and will  have the schedule of arrivals and departures



Opening the shipping season on Lake Superior.

In the winter, Duluth is locked in by locks and usually by ice. In the dead of winter, the fleet of layup boats is limited to Lake Superior since the Soo Locks are closed. At the beginning of each season, and at the end, many boats, usually taking coal, take advantage of that additional time to travel between Duluth/Superior and Marquette, Two Harbors, Thunder Bay, Taconite Harbor and Silver Bay.

Every spring, we wait for the Soo Locks to open, usually around March 25th. Further out in the Seaway, other locks, closed during the winter, have scheduled openings in the spring. This year, the Montreal-Lake Ontario locks will open on March 31st at 8 am. The Welland Canal will open at the same time.

Of course, weather conditions may still interfere with traffic at any point on the seaway.

Traditionally, the boat, almost always a thousand footer that spends the winter at the Midwest Energy Resources coal dock in Superior, will be the first to crack the ice, usually taking a cargo of coal to Marquette. That boat this year is the James R. Barker (last season, it was the Mesabi Miner). She is expected to leave the dock this year around March 17th and will likely make 3 trips to Marquette, and/or to Taconite Harbor, before the Soo Locks open.

Other winter layup boats here will get a jump on the season loading taconite at the CN docks in Duluth and Two Harbor. Those trips are timed so that many of the boats will be waiting, with loaded cargo holds, just this side of the Soo Locks on March 24th.

Duluth, winter boats

Thursday February 19, 2009:  We have 12 boats in port for winter layup but they are pretty hard to find and not very colorful. This winter, we have the added treat of the Edward H. She has been sitting quietly behind the DECC since the middle of January, adding some color to a landscape that is either white or gray or both.