American Century

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American Century was built in 1981, is 1000 feet long and flies the U.S. flag

Previous names:
Columbia Star: 1981-2006
American Century: 2006-

Click here for other pages featuring the American Century

Click below to listen to her whistle, recorded on October 7, 2011
20090712_9334PRODThe American Century was built in 1981 by  Bay Shipbuilding Corporation of Sturgeon Bay as the Columbia Star, in part, for the brig Columbia, a ship that in 1855 carried the first iron ore through the locks now known as the Soo. In 2006, she was purchased from Oglebay Norton by American Steamship Company in Buffalo and received her current name. She is 1,000 feet long and is operated with 4 General Motors diesel engines. She has a 260-foot self unloading boom on her deck. She averages about 40 trips a year to Duluth Superior, usually loading coal at Midwest Energy Resources in Superior. Notice in the latest pictures, she is painted black, the American Steamship color; before that, she was iron ore red, the color of Oglebay Norton boats. During the 2012-13 shipping season the American Century made 31 visits to the Twin Ports. Picture above taken Sunday, July 12, 2009.
In Duluth Superior, boat traffic keeps going until mid-January. Sometimes that seems like a good idea; other times not so much. Above, the tug Kentucky provides assistance to the American Century as she makes the turn to the Aerial Bridge with iron ore pellets she loaded at the CN dock, this on December 27, 2013. A couple months earlier, on August 15th, she did not need the help with another cargo of iron ore pellets loaded at CN (below).
Earlier in the year, on April 15, 2013, the G-Tug North Carolina went through the Duluth ship canal, opening a track through the ice for the Century to follow. Above, the Kentucky is coming back in. Below, on the same trip, loaded with coal from Midwest Energy Resources, she is moving up the Duluth harbor, approaching the bridge.
Two days earlier, on April 13th, 2013, she arrived Duluth (below) to load the coal.
On October 14, 2012 (above), she is seen about to go under the Lift Bridge with a cargo of iron ore pellets. Below, she arrives Duluth on October 7, 2011.
Above, the American Century passed by the Algoma Olympic in the Duluth harbor on July 14, 2011. Two months earlier, in May, 2011, Algoma Central purchased the fleet of Upper Lakes Group and the Canadian Olympic became the Algoma Olympic although the new name had yet to be painted on the boat.
I took the picture above on March 9, 2011 from the deck of the US Coast Guard cutter Alder on her second day out breaking ice. The American Century is still at her winter berth, arriving on January 17, 2011 for her winter layup. She departed Duluth with iron ore pellets loaded at CN 16 days later on March 25th.
On December 29, 2010, the American Century made the big wave to visitors in the Duluth ship canal. Earlier in the month (below), she brought a lot of ice in with her when she arrived on the 13th. That is the salt water ship Orsula behind her, at anchor waiting to come in for grain.
Above, on May 1 2009; coming in to load coal.
Above, she approaches the Lift Bridge with coal on July 12, 2009; below, under the Lift Bridge on December 17, 2009. Notice she has been painted in American Steamship black; last year she was still Oglebay Norton red.
Pictures above and below were taken June 7, 2008
Below, she goes under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge on April 5, 2008.
Two pictures above and the one below taken Friday, December 7, 2007
Above, June 7, 2008; below, October 8, 2006
Above, she arrives Duluth on June 16, 2006.
Picture above taken July 4, 2006; below October 8, 2006.
Picture above taken Sunday, August 15, 2004 at the Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth while Tinsley Ellis was performing
Above and below, the Columbia Star arrives Duluth in 1997
The Columbia Star arrives Duluth in October, 1996


  1. Charles E. House says:

    American Century is in Silver Bay today 7-27-2017, not in Two Harbors as reported in Duluth Shipping News! Charlie. Duluth

  2. Nice boat.

  3. So someone shared a recent video of her coming in to Duluth to dock and I was struck about how huge she was so I wanted to learn more. So I am curious how many crew do you need to run such an amazing ship?

  4. Just watched the American Century come in to Duluth on the harbor webcam. Is she having mechanical issues? Noticed a tug meet her, taking her towards Calumet fuel dock. Looking forward to summer, as we visit the Twin Ports every year.

  5. Just walked down to the river here in Sault Ste Marie to go look at the sunset, instead was greeted by the American Century making its way upstream to the locks…what a behemoth!

    So came online to find out more.

    Great site!

  6. Austin loves ships says:

    The American Century one of many 1000 footers on the great lakes

    • Rita Allerding says:

      Austin, Today ( Oct 13,2015 ) would be a GREAT day to watch her. She will arrive in Duluth bet 11:30- 12:30 today and depart tonight at 23:00- 01:00. Enjoy.

  7. My daughter and I spent a wonderful week in Duluth about 2 years ago. I had NEVER seen such big ships ever – they were so beautiful to watch. Can’t wait to go back and watch more of these ships; especially if it is snowing. We are from Texas – don’t see anything like this in Texas.

    • Tristin (loves ships) says:

      It really is a great experience, isn’t it, Jean?

    • Rita Allerding says:

      I’m from Michigan, and we are surrounded by water and ships. BUT I NEVER saw anything like Duluth, EVER!!! It is so awesome to watch those big bad boys entering the canal. It is mind blowing. My jaw dropped the first time I saw one coming in from Lake Superior. It truly is SUPERIOR !!!

  8. It looks like it’s going to be a good morning for early viewing, with both the Integrity, and the Century coming in within an hour of each other. When you think about how much coal they carry each thousand footer that leaves Superior takes three unit trains of coal off from very busy tracks and keeps a few people busy in Superior, and a lot of people working on the Lakers.

  9. Ali- a Duluth crazy girl :) says:

    American Century is by far my favorite ship of them all! I am trying my best to learn everything i can about it! I love this site, it gives so much information! thanks

  10. Tristin (loves ships) says:

    What a cool ship. I love it.

  11. a.g. wilson says:

    Absolutely love this sight, and refer to it often. Thanks!

  12. Suzanne says:

    Such a magnificent ship! We really enjoy this website. Thanks to all who set this up and maintain it. We love visiting Duluth and the lakers are always the highlight of our trip.

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