Working Lake Superior

I’ve tried to catch these photos for years, a lake cargo boat leaving at sunrise through the ship channel. It was one of those “accidental” shots, I was shooting the sunset from the balcony of our motel and turned to get some of the light house only to discover this beauty. The light couldn’t have been better with a hint of sunrise reflecting off the bow and bridge of the boat as it heads up the lake.

The Mainistee  makes an early morning departure through the Duluth ship canal  into the open water of Lake Superior,  on its’ way to do whatever it does. These Great Lakes working boats have always fascinated me in part because of their strange design and the fact that they add a nautical narrative to a state and region that is far from nautical.

My first encounter with both Lake Superior and the great north woods occurred in the early to mid 1950s when my family decided to venture up here from St. Louis, where I grew up. I have vague memories of the Duluth lift bridge and a harbor and water front full of working ore boats crewed by tough looking men who hung out in what is now Canal Park, as they waited for their boats to depart up the North Shore to fetch a fresh load of ore.

As we left Duluth and headed into the “wilderness”of the north woods I remember feeling that someday I would come back.


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