Roger Blough

Presque Isle

Roger Blough was built in 1972, is 858 feet long and flies a U.S. flag

Sam Laud
Click here for other pages featuring the Roger Blough
Click below to listen to her whistle as she departed Duluth on May 11, 2016
The Roger Blough is a unique boat in many ways. Most freighters on the Great Lakes have a self-unloading arm, usually about 250 feet long, sitting on their deck. When unloading cargo, the arm is swung over the side and conveyor belts carry the cargo up from the boat’s cargo holds, out the arm and onto the ground, or a waiting receptacle.
Above, the Blough passes the salt water ship Peter Ronna on July 14, 2014. The Ronna is a heavy lift ship that was headed to the Port Terminal to discharge wind turbine pieces.
Above, the Roger Blough departs Duluth on July 23, 2014 with iron ore pellets loaded at the CN dock in West Duluth.
The Blough comes in for winter layup on January 16, 2013. She left for the new season on March 24, 2013 with iron ore pellets loaded at the CN
nicks blough
Photo above taken by Nick Stenstrup on July 3, 2012. Below, taken on March 24, 2011 departing Duluth
Check out this video of the Roger Blough leaving the Port of Duluth Superior to start the 2012 shipping season.
After arriving for winter layup at the Port Terminal on January 14, 2011, she departed the port (above) with iron ore pellets on March 24, 2011.
Picture above taken Monday, March 24, 2008
She was laid up for several years during the steel downturn of the 80’s because of this lack of flexibility. Today (in 2008), there was an increasing market for the pellets that came down by train from the Iron Range. She had lots of work to do. Picture above and below taken Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Arriving at the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge, on her way out on July 12, 2008 with iron ore pellets.
Above, winter layup in Duluth on February 16, 2007. The Blough is at the top, then, going down, that’s the American Spirit and Edwin H. Gott is below her in the foreground.
Picture above taken Sunday, December 16, 2007
Above and below, the Blough is loading iron ore pellets at the BN dock on May 17, 2007
Picture below taken December 16, 2007
Picture above taken Friday, March 17, 2006: At the Port Terminal for winter layup
Departing Duluth on October 16, 2005
Picture above taken Tuesday, October 21, 2003
The Blough has a 54 foot self unloader (above, taken on july15, 2002) that can be moved out from either side of the stern section of her hull. It was made specifically to unload at the ports of Gary, South Chicago and Conneaut. When steel mills were flourishing in those ports, it seemed like a good idea, but today, it is a different story. The Blough is still restricted to ports where she can operate her unique unloader.
Picture above taken Monday, July 15, 2002: using her unique self unloader to discharge limestone
Above, she departs Duluth on April 13, 1999; below she arrives on October 6, 1999
Picture above taken October 20, 1999
Arriving Duluth in July, 1997


  1. Karen A Foster says:

    When I was in junior high, I helped out my father at Rudy Moc Studio in Lorain, Ohio.
    My father, who was a professional photographer, did a lot of photography work for US Ship and took the photographs of the interior of the Roger Blough after she suffered that terrible fire. I have vivid memories of loading the 8 by 10 black and white photographs of the fire on to the huge drum dryer in the back workroom at the studio as my father worked in the dark room developing the dozens of photos he had shot of the fire for the ship yard. I was fascinated by the photos though because of my young age, I don’t think I realized the historical significance of those pictures as they came off the dryer. Just this last week I was in Duluth, MN and saw on the list of ships arriving and departing from the harbor that the Roger Blough was departing the Superior docks.
    I would have loved to have gone to see her before she left the port. I have always felt such a strong connection to her because of those pictures of that tragic event.

    • Jim Varadi says:

      When I first got out of the Army, I worked at American Ship Building in Lorain. I was a ship fitter on the Roger Blough and helped build it. I grew up in Lorain and was friends with Johnny and Tommy Alexander who both died in the Blough fire. They lived a block from me near the Sohio gas station on the Corner of Oberlin Ave. & West Erie Ave. I remember them being found after the fire, huddled together in a hallway. They were nice guys and what happened was a total shame. I will never forget that.

  2. John szympruch says:

    I watch the SS Roger Blough arriving at Conneaut Harbor Ohio at 300pm 14 Aug 2017. The Blough turned around before entering breakwall of the Harbor entrance , then back up on its own to unload a load of Iron Ore on the C& P Dock..

  3. I recently watched her pass downbound for Gary through the DeTour Passage; she looked MAGNIFICENT as I’m so glad that she appears as a straight decker without the ugly self-unloading boom that mars the appearance of most of other Lakes freighters! I was wishing I was aboard her!!!

  4. I do not know her . she is different to me

  5. Edd Myers says:

    I was recently hospitalized in Hamot at Erie pa. Had a great veiw of this vessel coming into port! How can something that large be so nimble! amazing they way they back that thing into the slip! Thanks to the crew for making my stay so interesting!

  6. Jeff Parent says:

    My Mom and I were guests on the Roger Blough last year. Awesome ship and crew.
    Seven great days aboard this ship.

    • Janet Knust says:

      My Dad is turning 90 in 3 weeks, it’s his all-time favorite ship! I would LOVE for him to be on it! How did you become guests!???

  7. I remember it being built here in Lorain, OH, My uncle was a supervisor in the the ship yard but luckily had the day off when the fire broke out. My father was a firefighter & was there that day… the ship yard here is now gone it’s condos but it’s nice to have experienced the building of these magnificent vessles. May she have many more years of service!

    • I was working on her when she was being built in Lorain, then the strike hit and I found work elsewhere, never went back.

    • Steven Bizorik says:

      My Mom had mentioned the Roger Blough the other day. Remembering the day my father had barely survived the fire with the flames chasing up behind him as he and others escaped. I would love to see her up close as it is one of the vessels my Dad had a hand in building

  8. What a sight to behold. With the lightening it shows up with an awesome background. She was riding pretty high in the water this am. It amazes me how with all that iron in the making of these giants that they can stay upright in the water, what a creation. We’ll another fix for me to start the day out right.

  9. We see the Blough frequently in Conneaut where we dock. It is always a pleasure seeing this freighter enter the harbor.

  10. Gary Parson says:

    Thank you for the news on this vessel. In further reading I see the damage occurred Thursday around 2:00 PM. The damage is to the starboard side of her, hull, a hole about 2 feet long. She docked in Sault Ste. Marie at the Carbide Dock for repairs.

  11. Roger Blough suffers 3′ Ice Damage in Lake Superior 4/11/2014. Second ship of the season to suffer Ice Damage.

  12. hi hour it going?

  13. We saw her come into port tonight. My 7 year old son is wondering if he will visit the other ports that can accommodate her because of her unique self unloader 🙂

  14. Watched this beauty navigate the Duluth Harbor tonight. Tis Spring!

  15. gary parson says:

    I love these big freighters. I have been to Duluth and really enjoyed the tour of the William A. Irvin permanently moored there. Does anyone know if these active incoming / outgoing freighters ever allow tourists quick trips / tours aboard?

  16. David Marlette says:

    Thanks for the pics, One the most grand of the Lakers.

  17. Beautiful ship; first time I have seen her! Love the elegance and spaciousness of the stern area!

  18. She is so beautiful I’ve seen her once in Duluth what a glorious site.

  19. Gary Parson says:

    I had never heard of this ship before today. While looking up EBAY auction items for Lorain, Ohio, I saw a newspaper article for sale featuring 1971 newspaper article about a fire in the ship’s stern. It is a nice looking vessel per the pictures above.

  20. I really like the look of this ship. I hope she continues to sail the Great Lakes for many years to come.

  21. Thank you for this page! Saw this boat in Two Harbors on Wednesday, Sept. 28 and had a dickens of a time wondering why the hole in her stern! Now I know!

  22. Doug Thompson says:

    For Dee Wagner……..The Roger Blough is leaving the Duluth Canal in just a few minutes. You can see her live on several cameras on Duluth Harbor Cams. Hope you’re online to see this. Thanks to Dennis and Ken for this terrific service! The time now is 1445 on 9-22-11.

  23. Is the freighter out on the big lakes? Last I heard it was in for repairs. If it is out on the big lake around Michigan, where can I find a schedule? My mother (87 years young) dearly loves this freighter. Would love to see if I could find it for her. Thanks.

  24. a.g. wilson says:

    Saw her in Two Harbors 7/22/11. Noted that she looked a little different in the stern. Glad she has work.

Leave a Comment