Posts Tagged ‘Great Lakes freighters’

S.S. Badger Has new Owner

January 5, 2021

The last surviving Great Lakes railroad car ferry boat has a new owner.

The S.S. Badger has been acquired by Interlake Holding Company, which operates nine Great Lakes freighters.

The coal-fired Badger was built in 1952 for the Chesapeake & Ohio and crossed Lake Michigan.

Interlake President Make W. Baker said his company plans to operate between Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

The Badger operated for the C&O until 1980. Since then it has had a series of owners including one that offered rail freight service through 1990.

Since 1992 the Badger, which has been designated as a National Historic Landmark, has operated for leisure travel, tourism, and commercial truck traffic purposes.

The boat was most recently owned by Lake Michigan Car Ferry Company.

Great Lakes Freighters Working for CN Sidelined

July 11, 2020

Three Great Lakes freighters operated on behalf of Canadian National will be sidelined the remainder of this year due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

News reports indicate the idled boats, the Edgar B. Speer, Roger Blough, and Philip R. Clarke, make up a third of CN’s Great Lakes fleet.

The Pennsylvania company that operates the boats is expected to furlough 94 workers, most of them based in Duluth, Minnesota.

Keystone Shipping Company said shipments through the Port of Duluth-Superior is down about a third from earlier levels this year.

Ice Delays Start of Great Lakes Shipping Season

April 4, 2014

The seemingly endless winter may finally be showing signs of abating, but its aftermath continues as ice in the Great Lakes has hindered the start of the shipping season.

Ice on Lake Superior, for example, delayed the opening of the Lake Superior & Ishpeming ore dock in Marquette’s Upper Harbor in Michigan.

Officials said the ice the largest of the Great Lakes was the thickest that it’s been in two decades, while the Great Lakes overall have been almost completely locked in ice for the first time since 1979.

Thick Lake Superior ice kept U.S. Coast Guard cutters busy elsewhere on the lake, delaying the opening of the LS&I dock. Had it been a normal year, the first boat to arrive at the LS&I coal dock unloader would have been the Mesabi Miner. It had been scheduled to arrive on March 29.

The James L. Kuber had been set to pick up taconite pellets April 2, the first ore boat of the season. “The Mesabi Miner did not arrive and the Kuber was rescheduled,” said Jennifer Huetter, Cliffs Natural Resources district manager for public affairs in Michigan. “The vessel Michipicoten, which was situated on the north side of the locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., was then expected to arrive April 3, but that too was put off.” The Lakes Contender is now scheduled to be the first ore boat of the season, due to arrive April 6. Huetter said the ice thickness on the Upper Harbor at the ore dock is estimated at two feet. The ice thickness that Coast Guard cutters are encountering is at least 3 feet in some places, 4 feet in others. In the middle of Lake Superior, cutters found ice rubble fields that were 6 feet thick.

Sunday Exploring My Backyard

July 8, 2012

Norfolk Southern 2668, an SD70M-2, leads train 309 across the former Nickel Plate Road drawbridge over the Cuyahoga River and the Flats. The train had a rather short consist.

Sunday, July 8, 2012, was the kind of warm and sunny day that would have been just right for going to a ballgame, picnic or maybe even railfanning. Although the Cleveland Indians were in town taking on the Tampa Bay Rays, I elected to chase trains. In the process, I was able to see Progressive Field where the Tribe plays.

Friend Adam Barr and I decided to explore some new territory in our backyard in Cleveland. We left Adam’s house about 8:30 a.m. and made our way to the Tremont neighborhood. The parking lot for the University Inn on 7th Street has an expansive view of the former Nickel Plate Road drawbridge and trestle over the Cuyahoga River and the Flats.

As impressive as this view is, though, train traffic on the line is not heavy. You can sit for a long time and see nothing.

After setting up, we learned that we had just missed an eastbound, but could hear Norfolk Southern train 145 calling signals in the distance. The lighting was less than ideal, but I managed to snag a few decent images, particularly using the Inner Belt bridge and the NS trestle as framing devices.

One reason we came here was because construction of the first of two new Inner Belt bridges is well underway. Demolition of a giant warehouse that stood next to Interstate 90 for decades has opened new vistas. Once the Inner Belt bridges are completed, they will change the landscape here.

Neither Adam nor myself had been down here before, so it was time to do some exploring.

With nothing on the radio after the passage of the 145, we decided to check another new location, Battery Park. This upscale housing development sits next to the NS Chicago Line just west of downtown.

Rail traffic was at a standstill shortly after we arrived due to the drawbridge over the Cuyahoga being up. After the river traffic had cleared and the bridge was lowered, we had a flurry of trains, two westbounds and an eastbound.

We then heard the NS Cleveland District dispatcher talking to the 22K, which was on the Cloggsville Connection to the ex-NKP. We headed back toward where we had been, but decided to park on or near Abbey Road and walk in on that Abby Road bridge.

We weren’t sure if we had missed the 22K or not. We didn’t see it during the couple of times we crossed the NS tracks en route. Then we noticed the drawbridge was up and a lake freighter was heading down river.

After the American Courage passed, we waited for what seemed like an agonizingly long time, all the while  wondering if 22K had gotten past us somehow. That seemed unlikely. Besides, the home signal for the drawbridge displayed an approach indication for an eastbound move.

At last we spotted the 22K rounding a curve and heading toward our position on the Abbey Road bridge.

After lunch at the Flying Fig restaurant near the West Side Market, we returned to the parking lot next to the University Inn. After another long wait, I heard a distant and scratchy radio transmission that sounded like a train calling a signal.

It would turn out to be the 309. We would have a westbound in reasonably good light — or at least as good as it can be at 2:30 in the afternoon on a July day — for a shot with the Cleveland skyline in the background.

Like the 145, the 309 had a short consist. The dispatcher had indicated that the 309 would recrew at Rockport Yard. Perhaps it would pick up a few cars there, too.

Adam had some family obligations to take care of, so we prepared to leave. But I spotted a lake freighter heading up river. We stayed to photograph the Calumet. It easily dwarfed the pleasure craft that passed it.

Then again, the trains had been easily dwarded by the massive bridges over the Flats. It was like looking at a forest of steel and concrete.

It had been hot, but not unbearable. The breeze felt nice and the humidity was much lower than it had been on Saturday. We had photographed a lot of trains, but had recorded images in new territory for both of us. I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer Sunday afternoon.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

NS 145 lumbers across the trestle over the Flats on Sunday morning. In the lead is SD60 No. 6568.

Although Cleveland sits next to Lake Erie for several miles, there are few places in the city to photograph trains with the lack in the background. An opening in the trees opposite Battery Park provides such an opportunity if you don’t mind the wires in the background. The white dots on the lake are sail boats.

An eastbound NS manifest freight passes the community center at Battery Park on track No. 2. Leading is NS 9444, a dash 9 that is oh so common here.

NS 22K crosses a bridge over a city street as it approaches the Abbey Road overpass west of the drawbridge on the former Nickel Plate Road line. A passing lake freighter delayed the train, but in this view the double stack container train is on the move eastbound.

Bridges, bridges everywhere. The lead locomotive of NS 145 is dwarfed by a steel city of bridges. The locomotives have just passed beneath the Inner Belt bridge carrying I-90 over the Flats and Cuyahoga River. The pier to the right will support the new Inner Belt bridge that is now under construction. The bridge to the left is the ex-NKP drawbridge.


Lake freighter American Courage is about to clear the ex-NKP drawbridge over the Cuyahoga River as it slowly makes it way down river.

Calumet slowly goes up river as a sail boat under motor power has pulled to the side to led the much larger vessel pass. The Cuyahoga River makes a number of bends here, hence the Indian name meaning crooked river.