May 06-04

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2004: May: May 06-04
Prettiest boat on the Lakes    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Rod Burdick

Mary Drew at Pasty Central on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 06:21 am:

If you've spent any amount of time around Lake Superior, you've seen many a freighter passing by. For those of you far from the Big Lake, you can hop on over to our Guest Gallery, to check out various ships in Rod Burdick's album. This shot of the Edward L. Ryerson, loading in Marquette Harbor, caught my eye. Those larger than life letters... STEEL, can be brought into perspective on their size, by comparing them to the man dressed in white standing on the deck. The Ryerson has an uncertain future, as she has been in lay-up for several years now. She looks fancy enough to be a cruise ship to me. I even read somewhere that the living quarters, dining room and offices are air conditioned! Sounds like a nice get-away... cruising the Great Lakes!

By ywb/yooperwannabe/richmond on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 06:22 am:

Good Morning again,
First Post
Have a great day!

By danbury; germany on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 06:37 am:

My sentiments exactly - at least as far as I can say so far as I've not gotten through all the boatnerd's files by now. And only as long as one leaves aside whatever schooners there may be on the lakes.
I'd had to look to be sure but I think the boatnerd has a great drawing of the Ryerson ...

By Kosk in Toronto on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 06:53 am:

It doesn't get much better than this--a freighter
in my hometown harbor to look at before
leaving for work. Let's hear it for the Ladies of
the Lake!

By Margaret, Amarillo TX on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 07:04 am:

This reminds me so much of growing as a young child in Ashland. These ships sitting next to a dock (with it's pockets closed)make me remember that my dad used to punch ore. Have you ever tried explaining that phenomena to someone who doesn't know anything about the Great Lakes except their names?

By Thomas in Calumet on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 07:49 am:

Interesting note: The word "STEEL" that Mary mentioned is not
visible in any of the other photos on the site she provided. Is
this a new addition? If so, why would a ship company spend the
$$$ to add this word and then tell us that the ship's future is so
uncertain. Do they have money to throw away? How about it,
you ship watchers....what gives?

By Rob Moffat, OH on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 07:56 am:

I've always thought that the Inland Steel boats were the best looking ones on the lakes!! I may be a little biased, my dad worked for Inland all his life, I worked for them summers while going to CMU. There was no other boat quite like the Ryerson. She's currently in lay-up in Wisconsin, I doubt that she will ever sail again. Thanks for the memories:)

By rob in dc on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 08:22 am:

I remember years ago watching the Ryerson heading downbound through the McArthur lock, the one nearest the observation platforms at the Soo. We were astounded to see that not only did the boat have a glassed-in dining room, but that the tables were set with linen, silver and crystal or reasonable facsimilies thereof. Mr. Moffat, I pose to you (and everyone else) the question that has been with me ever since: Why? Why did this otherwise utilitarian vessel provide such quarters de luxe, and for whom?

By Mark of Kaleva, Mich and soon Calumet on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 09:09 am:

They had to make it nice so the men would stay on the boats. You should hear what they got for Christmas dinner. But there is the trade off. Your on the lake for Christmas instead of home. It is not an easy job

By George on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 09:12 am:

What is an automatic unloader? Why doesn't this ship have one?

By camwatcher on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 09:15 am:

This page will give you a photo tour of the interior. Some staterooms and lounges are very nicely outfitted. I would have enjoyed travelling the Great Lakes this way myself. It does say it was air-conditioned and the Captain's dining table was equipped with a buzzer to summon a porter.

By Jean, West Texas. on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 09:19 am:

This picture takes me back to my days at NMU when visiting Presque Isle the big boats would be parked unloading or loading. Those were some fine days.....It is cloudy here in West Texas with temps approaching 84 forecasted along with clearing. Great baseball weather for the little ones.

By Joe, yooper transplant on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 09:23 am:

The comment about air conditioning onboard caught me eye! I am in the Navy and have been for 22 years now! Air conditioning has always been there is one form or another, when I first came in it was in the computer rooms that I worked in and the rest of the ship was quite warm but the modern ships all have very good ac and it's not unusual to wear a jacket in the Arabian gulf while inside the ship. I'm sure the ships on the lakes now are no different but and this is a big but! It wouldn't matter what they provided us in the way of comfort it can never make up for the loss of family and friends we all suffer when at sea or on the lakes doing what we do best!

By ert, GA on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 09:52 am:

Jean in TX, when were you at NMU? I was there briefly in 1967. I remember Presque Isle and loved to see the ore boats loading up at the big dock in Marquette.

By SK, Grand Rapids, MI on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 10:09 am:

George: An automatic unloader is (usually) a huge piece of machinery to put on a ship. All the holds inside the ship are connected with conveyor belts to collect the cargo. The belts connect to a tower, usually just behind the pilot house in the front of the ship. A huge metal boom with another conveyor belt is attached to the tower like a big crane boom. The unloader arm can be raised, lowered, and swung off over the side of the ship to deposit the cargo onto shore, a dock, or (in Marquette's case for coal) a hopper.

With the excess shipping capacity on the Lakes that has appeared since the Reyerson was built and the 1,000+ foot size of today's ships, the cost of converting the 730-foot Reyerson to a self-unloader is probably much too high.

Besides, the idea of The Reyerson's sleek, classic lines being spoiled by a huge self-unloading system is almost abhorrent. It would be like putting the Mona Lisa in a riveted, brushed steel frame.

By Mike R. New Berlin, WI on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 10:13 am:

I work on Ryerson Rd in New Berlin Wisconsin. Hmm, I wonder what the connection is.

By shelly/Yankee in Texas on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 10:27 am:

My Grandmother lived in the Soo and loved to tell us about the ships. She said she spent alot of time at the library, and at the Locks waving at the men as they floated by. :)


By Bob on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 10:45 am:

My Wife grew up in DeTour Michigan right on
the St. Mary's river.

A friend of theirs was the captian on the Ryerson and would salute every time he passed.

I'm curently working on a project to scan the 3000
slide left to us on thier passing. from 1956 on.

Many of them contain ship photo's which I will
upload as i get to them.

Her Brother is currently on the Herbert C Jackson.

People laugh when we say we drive to Marquette and
back just for dinner, until we tell them Dinner was
on an ore boat. ;-)

By Pete Wi on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 11:18 am:

One thing I noticed during my time in the Copper Country was that when we first moved there when you were on the north shore around Esry Park you could usually see several ore boats in your field of vision. As the years passed and they dropped more 1000 footers into the water one saw fewer and fewer boats and the jobs on them got very scarce. Too bad.

By Bob on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 11:28 am:

I just added my favorite Ryerson Photo to my albums.

Pete: keep your eyes open this year. steel demand is at all time high and boats are all moving. Alot in layup for years are coming
out this spring.

By Bob on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 11:50 am:

By Thomas in Calumet on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 07:49 am:
Interesting note: The word "STEEL" that Mary mentioned is not
visible in any of the other photos on the site she provided


Thomas if you look at my photo above, you'll
see the letters have been there since at least

according to the boatnerds website

She is owned by: Central Marine Logistics (formerly Inland Steel)

So the BIG INLAND STEEL lettering may have been removed recently if they are not there.

go to their FLEET PHOTO GALLERY for more photos.


By ed on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 01:16 pm:

The wallpaper on my computer is identical picture of the SS WILFRED SYKES..I remember riding my bike from Hubbell to Houghton to watch it on its maiden trip through the Portage Canal in 1949. Like other kids from the copper country I spent a few years aboard the "boats".

By Ready to go! on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 01:18 pm:

Maybe if enough of us sign up for a cruise, they'll have to take her out ;)

Those ships are awesome, great shot!

By lk, c.c. on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 02:36 pm:

Is there any way that a person can get a ride on one of the ore boats? I remember seeing a contest to win one, but can you buy a ride? My husband would love it!

By Nancy Nelson, WI on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 02:44 pm:

Does anyone remember watching the Sykes go through the old swing bridge on that maiden voyage, and wondering if it would make it through without knocking down the bridge because it was such a tight fit?

By Thoma in Calumet on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 02:45 pm:

Bob: Thanks. The photos provided by Mary were dated 2002.
When do you think the lettering was removed? I wonder why? It
must have something to do with the name change away from
Inland Steet. I sort of liked the identity the ship had with those
large letters across the side.
Mary: When was Rod's picture taken? How about the website?
Any dates on those pics??

By Thomas in Calumet on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 02:46 pm:

How do you like that? I can't even spell my own name.

By Dave of Mohawk on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 03:20 pm:

There is mention of the plush dining room and quarters on the Ryerson. These plush quarters were not for crew, they were reserved for company officials and passenger guests of company officials. Although crews quarters were adequate they were no comparison to the guest quarters. Vessels like the Ryerson are referred to as "straight deckers", which means that they don't have an unloading boom or conveyor system and have to be unloaded with clam buckets [a very slow process] many of the older great lakes freighters have been converted to self unloaders but the cost is in the millions.

By anon/milw on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 03:26 pm:

If you do the RYERSON slideshow, you will see 50 different views if the ship, all labeled!

By anon/milw on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 03:37 pm:

I forgot to put this in my last post...when is Armour's boat being moved to the museum? Also Gazette reported today that "The sweater Letter" episode of Forensic Files will air 6/9, 9pm your time...Have to contact Copper World for the books about Armour and Sweater Letter!

By ed on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 04:29 pm:

Right now on the site there are three auctions for trips on a great lakes freighter this summer. go to site and click on new trip and auction link.

By Joe Finn, Rhinelander, Wi on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 04:53 pm:

In the 1970's the Plant Engineer for Menominee Paper(Michigan) would take a trip every year, with his wife, on a coal freighter. The trip would be from Menominee to Toledo and back. He had to pay for this privelage and said the accommodations and food were excellent. So I guess a freighter trip on the Great Lakes can be done. At least in those days.

By camwatcher on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 05:54 pm:

anon, milw: You can buy a copy of the book about Armour at The Houghton County Historical Museum at their website,
The Sweater Letter is at most popular bookstores.
Armour's boat has been moved but is not on display as of this date.

By DT, calumet on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 06:23 pm:

the STEEL was removed when Inland Steels fleet became Central Marine Logistics, the Ryerson last ran in i think 1997 or 1998, laid up due to lack of self-unloading equipment, as for why she doenst have the self-unloader, the company simply doesnt want to spend the money as itd be a very costly operation, she was rumored to come out this year but again, CML didnt want to spend money to get the 5-year inspection that she needs, sad that the best looking boat on the lakes sits in lay-up year around....

By Bill, Ca. on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 06:23 pm:

Yes, Nancy, I remember when the Sykes went through the canal on its maiden voyage. It seemed like every car in the Copper Country was parked on Quincy Hill or along the shore roads loaded with people to watch and blow their car horns. It was a huge celebration especially when the ship cleared the bridge. And the Sykes blew its whistles to accompany the noise of the cars.

By Paul in Illinois on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 06:26 pm:

Inland, like many corporations, undoubtedly wanted to project a good corporate image. By the guest suites etc, the Ryerson was probably the flag ship of the fleet, and warrented the best of care. Also since the steel industry was among the first to become politically incorrect, a nice clean boat helped to avoid criticism. The other factor is that it doesn't hurt to have your name out where it can be seen.
I am not a boatnerd but I suspect the Ryerson has a connection to Ryerson Steel, a major wholesaler of finished steel.
The present steel shortage is due in part to the massive capitalization in China and the thrid world countries. We have projects on hold here because the supplies are so low. It is also due in part to our decision (as a nation) to divest ourselves of primary industries. If we would have to go it alone, as our Government has been want to do as of late, we would be unable to support ourselves for want of facilities and the skilled labor to operate them.
I would feel much better if the Ryerson and the others were back on the Lake.

By Kathy on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 06:33 pm:

Did you notice that the road to Sedar Bay ( and Armour's house) is now named Sarkela Road?

By mjg Lake Linden on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 06:33 pm:

Just read "The Sweater Letter", could not put it down. GREAT BOOK.

By Mary Flemming, Canton, Mi on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 07:43 pm:

I remeber as a young girl going down to Sedar Bay and parking at a farm house. We had to walk across a field to get to Armour's house on the water. I'm not sure if he was part of the Waananen family, or if he was just a family friend. Can anyone fill me in on his history? I just have slight memories of fishing nets and boats on the beach. If anyone has some info on his history, I would love to hear about it. Mary in Canton

By chris byczek on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 07:51 pm:

A few summer's back when I was fishing outside of Frankfort Mi. I was reading my know your ship book and looking at a picture of the Ryerson. I looked up to see the freighter going by and it was the Ryerson! What luck !

By tom on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 08:01 pm: this evening!!!!!

Edward L. Ryerson Crew
From: Col Mate
Location: Western States
Remote Name:
Date: 05/06/04
Time: 06:17:34 PM

I heard from a good source that the Edward L. Ryerson may have an engine room crew returning next month. Has anyone else heard this? COuld it be possible?? I guess only time will tell.

By Misplaced Michigander, NJ on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 08:50 pm:

Central Marine Logistics??! Makes me wish I didn't remember the glorious days of Great Lakes shipping. Count me in as another fan of the Ryerson; she's still the most beautifully designed of all the lakers.

By pete IL on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 10:00 pm:

we were fortunate to take a ship tour of the Ryerson at Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin last mother's day. i believe the door co maritime museum received some of the proceeds of the tour admission. the tour guides were former crewmates of the Ryerson and other lakers. it is a beautiful ship and i highly recommend taking the tour if you ever get the chance.

By Steve the flying troll on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 10:14 pm:

I notice the "early birds" hit the site around 6AM I have to get up at 4AM tomorrow to fly to GA to pick up a small airplane and fly it home to Detroit. I will check the site at 4AM, but I have a hunch that might be a little early.......It is REALLY EARLY for me......

By Ken and Mimi from da UP on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 10:41 pm:

I sailed aboard the E.L.Ryerson in the spring of '63. I still think she is the prettiest boat on the lakes. The lettering on the shipside said, INLAND STEEL. Us deckhands had to brush and wash the white line and letters every time the ship left port. We were the flagship of the line and everything had to be shipshape. The crew quarters were the nicest I had while I sailed. The guest areas really were impressive!
I, too, remember when the Sykes came through the Portage Canal the first time. It really was a tight squeeze! Going back a week or so, was the Gundlach building that burned the old Cahodas/Paoli warehouse and dock where the SOUTH AMERICAN tied up on Tuesday evenings?

By ywb/yooperwannabe/richmond on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 11:03 pm:

Steve, The Flying Troll,
Yes, I am up very early everyday. Have a safe flight.
-yooperwannabe/richmond mi.

By ECW on Friday, May 7, 2004 - 06:44 am:

Ken:, No that wasn't the one that burned. According to my Dad (almost 99) it had been a wholesale house also at one time. I think he mentioned a name like Roach & Seeber SP. You mentioned the Sykes coming thru, that was the year also that the (then) new hospital opened.

By DH on Friday, May 7, 2004 - 08:22 am:

ECW and Ken; If my memory serves, the Cahodas warehouse was right next to Dee Stadium, a couple of blocks away from the fire.

By RCW on Friday, May 7, 2004 - 08:36 am:

Right DH. RE Cahodas. Its now the UP Power Co office complex.

By Roudy Mi on Friday, May 7, 2004 - 10:35 am:

Gundlach and Cahodas faced each other across a parking lot or two I thought. With the train station between them. but on the other side of the tracks

By One Finn to Another on Friday, May 7, 2004 - 09:42 pm:

Sure miss my day's in Marquette, I too could sit and watch the freighter's, I'd live there if I could, maybe some day.

By brian, almont, michigan on Monday, May 10, 2004 - 04:58 am: usually has a raffle that you can enter to win a one or two week trip on a freighter on the great lakes, all the money goes to charity!!!

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