June 15-07

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2007: June: June 15-07
Boating traffic    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Z-Man
Offloading cargo    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Z-Man

Mary Drew at Pasty Central (Mdrew) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 06:31 am:

Boats in the Ontonagon area seem to come in ALL sizes, as illustrated by Z-Man with this amazing capture of an area landmark surrounded by boats both big and small. It's hard to tell if the American Valor freighter is docked or not, but neither of the fisherman or their furry companion seem too concerned about the giant boat ramming into them. I didn't realize that they unload their cargo so close to the Ontonagon Lighthouse and looking at the second shot with the entire freighter in view, it seems to be just inside the breaker walls unloading. Maybe Z-Man can fill us in on the entire operation here today.

By Brooke (Lovethekeweenaw) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 06:38 am:

I wonder how much closer the fishing boat is than the laker? Water makes the scale crazy, always like the boats.

By Deb S. (Usedtobeayooper) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 07:01 am:

These are cool to see! It's something I didn't know. It must be docked or I don't think that the boaters would act so nonchalant!

By Janie T. (Bobbysgirl) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 07:16 am:

Great pictures today! Have to agree with you Mary, the American Valor looks to be unloading, look at the end of the auger looks like coal unloading. Not sure, but I believe the American Valor was once the Armco.

By Margaret, Amarillo TX (Margaret) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 07:44 am:

Wow, what a way to spend the day. Two of my favorites, big boats and a much smaller one with fishermen aboard.

By s. dearing (Geebeed) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 07:48 am:

Love the freighters! Great pictures.

By Marianne Y (Marianne) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 09:09 am:

That's a great picture. I always love lighthouses & freighters, et al. I, too, am surprised that the freighter might be unloading so close to the lighthouse.

That's the first time that I've seen the Ontanagon lighthouse. It seems to have a lot of similarity to the Copper Harbor lighthouse.

Our boat is a little bit bigger than that one & a lot more stable, but I would not get anywhere near as close to a freighter with ours, unless the freighter were totally tied up & unloading! I had safety totally indoctrinated into me, between my dad & where I worked for 14 years. (Sometimes it can be kind of hard that my husband never received any safety indoctrination, so to speak. He's too gutsy, and not necessarily in a positive sense. :-) )

By Cindy Pihlaja Russell (Gone2long) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 09:19 am:

Yeah! Ontos! My alma mater! Go Gladiators! The kids used to swim on the other side of the river. They would jump off the rocks at the end of the pier. That was one of my first experiences with not so nice people...someone decided I needed to go swimming right now and I am not a fan of water that is over my head, very cold and moving fast. I thought I would never start coming back up. Needless to say, I didn't hang around there much.

By Anna Roehrich (Updreamer) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 09:38 am:

I would love to be in the fishing boat (provided, of course, that the freighter is NOT moving!). I think it would be fascinating to see one that close up, usually I'm seeing them out on open water from quite a distance.

By Marianne Y (Marianne) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 09:42 am:

A camera with a zoom lens would give you the same effect! :-) Or, you could see them in person, right up next to them, at the Soo Locks.

By Janie T. (Bobbysgirl) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 09:47 am:

Updreamer, when you make the move to Minnesota, said in your profile, I recommend a visit to Duluth! Canal Park is a great place to watch the freighters and saltys come and go! Also there are plenty of ports of call along the North Shore!

By The (Zman) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 10:01 am:


The freighter is unloading coal for the White Pine power plant. Both photo's where taken with it docked in the same place.

By Anna Roehrich (Updreamer) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 10:19 am:

Janie T. - Yes, I can't wait to visit Duluth. I follow the freighter activity online & watch their webcam. Sounds like a fun place.

By Doug (Greenhermit) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 10:20 am:

The coal off-loaded onto the banks of the Ontonagon is used to generate steam and electricity at the Smurfit-Stone paper mill located right behind the lighthouse, and by the White Pine Power Plant. There was some considerable concern in the community earlier in the year when the Army Corp of Engineers determined that there was too little tonnage entering the harbor to justify its dredging. Without dredging the muddy Ontonagon every year, boats like this would be unable to enter the river - and especially now with the low level of Lake Superior. Bringing the coal in by rail is cost prohibative for the mill and power plant. Apparently the Corp's decision not to dredge was recently reversed.

BTW the Ontonagon County Historical Society offers great tours of the lighthouse. Take one in if you have a chance.

By Bob Williams (Wabbit) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 11:07 am:

In the first picture it looks like the coal is piled up higher than the light beacon. Doesn't this block the light?

By Robert H. Baker (Rhb) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 12:06 pm:

Zman once again you took some great picture's. And Bob it looks like the coal is higher then the lighthouse I wonder to:)

By Kyle A. Ahola (Kyahkyah) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 12:15 pm:

Weird to see my home town on the intranet while I'm in England!


By Doug (Greenhermit) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 12:29 pm:

Regarding the coal pile being higher than the light: not particularly a problem as the lighthouse is no longer in use. In fact, the light and lens have been removed. There is an unmanned beacon, though, at the end of the west-side pier which juts out into Lake Superior.

By JohnS (Jksturos) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 03:21 pm:

Gotta love the pooch at the bow of the small boat - always a great companion out on the lake.

By Catherine Ristola--Holland MI (Catherine) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 04:36 pm:

The Ontonagon light and Copper Harbor were the same until dormers were added to Ont. back in 1900 or so. The very nice Fresnel lens is in the museum on main street.

The light used to be only 50 feet or so from the lake, but silt, mud, etc has built up over the years so that now it is inland quite a ways. The only access to it is across pulp mill land and on the guided tours. Previous mill owners were not as accommodating as the current ones and it was virtually impossible to get a good legal look around (I would swim the river). The coal piles do impede the view a bit!

The Historical Society is trying to restore to about 1940 so that the dormers, electricity and other changes can stay while still giving a good glimpse into that life. The light is right next to town, so the keeper would only have had to take a boat across the river--not so remote as other places!

By Happy to be in the U.P. (Lahelo) on Friday, June 15, 2007 - 09:02 pm:

Robert H. Baker (Rhb)
The coal is higher than the Ontonagon Lighthouse. You should see when they pile it all up in the fall before winter sets in. When the shipping season is done for the winter. Tons and Tons of it!

By Kelly Kidd (Ellykay) on Saturday, June 16, 2007 - 03:25 am:

We do our boating on the California Delta and have to share the main channel with those bad boy frieghters. They are usually at a crawl when they are in such tight quarters, and not much of a threat to smaller craft, if you give them enough room or, unless you stall out in front of them.

By Joan C. Wilson (Joan) on Saturday, June 16, 2007 - 10:12 am:

If you could see further upstream, near where the bridge is located (the old one)there are other piles of coal there too; you could stand on the bridge where the ship was within several yards from it!! The ships unload in 2 different places on either side of the lighthouse. My great-grandfather was the lighthouse keeper many years ago and they sure have kept it in wonderful condition for tours; Mr. Johanson, retired fellow school teacher, does the best tour of all. Now the village is buying (or has) the lighthouse which is the way to preserve it.

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