Early in the morning on the last day of May, Lower Lakes Towing Ltd.’s self-unloading motor vessel Cuyahoga could be heard out in Lake Michigan blowing its fog horn as it approached the Grand Haven piers. The Cuyahoga arrived at first light and headed for Meekoff’s D&M dock on Harbor Island.
The vessel had a split cargo aboard, as it was loaded first in Thessalon, Ontario, and then Meldrum Bay, Ontario, so there were two different kinds of stone aboard. The Cuyahoga was unloaded before noon and backed out to Lake Michigan.
June 1 saw the arrival of two freighters.
First was Interlake Steamship Co.’s self-unloading motor vessel Kaye E. Barker. It arrived with a cargo of coal for the Board of Light & Power plant on Harbor Island at about 9 a.m.
Following two hours or so behind the Barker was Lower Lakes Towing’s self-unloading motor vessel Mississagi. The Mississagi eased past the Barker and traveled upriver to the Verplank dock in Ferrysburg.
The Barker departed at about 4 p.m. and the Mississagi was outbound an hour later. Both ships headed up Lake Michigan. While the Barker was ahead of the Mississagi originally, the Mississagi ended up passing the Barker below Ludington.
The Cuyahoga and Mississagi were our first and second Canadian visitors of the season. Both vessels were built as part of the “Maritimer class” in the 1940s.
The Cuyahoga was built by the American Shipbuilding Co. as the Mesabi and entered service as the J. Burton Ayers later that year. The Ayers began sailing for the Great Lakes Steamship Co., and then spent time with Wilson Marine Transit, then Kinsman Marine, and later the Columbia Transportation Division of the Oglebay Norton Co.
The Ayers spent several seasons laid up in the 1990s and, despite being rumored for scrap, was purchased by Lower Lakes in 1995 and renamed Cuyahoga. It has been sailing for them ever since.
The Mississagi was built at Great Lakes Engineering Works in Ecorse as the Hill Annex, and began trading on the lakes as the George A. Sloan. The Sloan was converted to a self-unloader during the 1965-66 winter. The vessel sailed first for U.S. Steel and then later for Great Lakes Fleet.
In 2001, the Sloan was part of a three-ship sale to Lower Lakes with fleetmates Calcite II and Myron C. Taylor. The Calcite II was renamed Maumee and the Myron C. Taylor became the Calumet. The Sloan was renamed Mississagi and reflagged Canadian. Both the Maumee and Calumet have since been scrapped, and the name Calumet now carries on with another vessel in the fleet.
The Cuyahoga is named for the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio. it is 620 feet long, 60 feet wide and 35 feet deep.
The Mississagi’s namesake is the Mississagi Strait located in Lake Huron. It has the same dimensions as the Cuyahoga, but is 6 inches longer.
The port of Grand Haven received 12 cargoes last month. We have received 19 cargoes so far this season. This number is the same that we had a year ago. Our five-year average is 17 cargoes for May, so we are ahead of that.
There’s a few ships to look out for in the near future. The Wilfred Sykes is expected both at D&M and Verplank’s in the next week or so. Also look for the Cuyahoga at Verplank’s. Additionally, the St. Marys Cement terminal is looking to get a boat sometime this weekend.