Two weekends ago, we disembarked the James R. Barker for the last time in Escanaba, Michigan, after spending an absolutely amazing and wonderful week on board. Unfortunately, school started this past week, leaving me almost no time to transition from life aboard the ship to a normal routine, much less post the photos I took on board. But, here they are.
We drove to Duluth on Saturday, August 20, and spent some time there before heading up to Two Harbors where we would eventually meet the Barker. As we were driving over the Blatnik Bridge, we noticed the Arthur M. Anderson heading through the harbor towards the canal. We made it there just in time to catch her depart. She had unloaded limestone and was heading light to Two Harbors where she would load iron ore pellets.
That weekend also happened to be Duluth’s Tall Ships festival 2016, so Canal Park was packed with tourists. The tall ships were docked all along Bayfront Park and the DECC, and I got a glimpse of the massive rubber duck at Bayfront Park as well! I was unfortunately unable to photograph anything else that evening besides the Anderson, as we were short on time.
The Barker wasn’t expected to arrive in Two Harbors until early Sunday morning, but a family friend gave us a surprise: he offered to give us a tour of the laid-up J.A.W. Iglehart in Superior. It was dark by that point, so I didn’t take any photos, but being able to tour the ship was a very unique experience, and a prequel to what was to come.
So after that, we drove to Two Harbors and waited for the Barker to arrive. When the crew came ashore to meet us at 2:00 on Sunday morning, we were led out onto the iron ore dock and boarded the ship. We were given a miniature tour of our quarters before we went to sleep for a few hours. When I awoke later in the morning and went outside, the Arthur M. Anderson was just backing from the dock next to us.
After clearing the dock, the 767-foot steamer began to turn for her departure.
The Anderson was launched on February 16, 1952, for the Pittsburgh Steamship Division of U.S. Steel Corp. She was the second of three identical AAA class ships built for Pittsburgh – the Philip R. Clarke preceded her in 1951, while the Cason J. Callaway followed later in 1952.
The ship was lengthened by 120 feet during the spring of 1975 at Fraser Shipyards, bringing her to her present length. She was converted to a self-unloader during the winter of 1981/82, also at Fraser.
As many know, Arthur M. Anderson is famous for trailing the Edmund Fitzgerald on the night she sank in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. Both ships were in radio contact throughout the trip, and the Anderson provided radar information to the Fitz when her radar went out.
After making a quick turn, Arthur headed outbound for the Chicago area, where we would catch up with her later.
The day was proving to be excellent for sailing – no waves on the big lake, warm temperatures – and of course, we’d be in port all day loading.
So adieu to Arthur M. Anderson.
And now, the first of many onboard photos! Even though the ship had arrived much earlier in the morning, we wouldn’t complete loading until late evening on Sunday.
The iron ore dock that we were at was conveyor-fed, meaning a conveyor belt brought ore from stockpiles on shore to the dock before loading the ship. This meant we had to wait for cargo to be brought out before we could load. This process occurred about five times throughout the day – a period of loading, then waiting, then loading again.
After a very long afternoon of waiting, the dock was finally ready to load the James R. Barker with the last of our cargo. It was sunset by this point – we and a few members of the crew had already gone for multiple walks around the harbor and out to the Two Harbors breakwater.
The sunset over the hill was one of the best we’d see on the trip, and we spent the evening watching the loading process.
Finally, at about 11:00 that night, we finished loading and backed from the dock. The captain allowed us into the pilothouse to watch as he and the wheelsman navigated the ship through the turn. In no time, we were cruising on open Lake Superior at 12 knots.
One of my main goals during the trip was to catch a Lake Superior sunrise – and so on Monday morning, I got up early and went outside to see what it was like. I was greeted by this – one of the most stunning sunrises I have been able to photograph.
Monday was spent transiting Lake Superior. After such a gorgeous sunrise, the day began cloudy and gray. We spent a lot of time walking the deck and enjoying the lake breeze.
But later in the day, the water turned blue and the sailing was beautiful. The big lake was fairly calm, and by that I mean 2-4 foot waves, but we couldn’t feel a thing aboard the Barker.
And, just like that morning, sunset that night was quite beautiful as well.
I really like this shot, showing the sunset just to the left of the aft section of the ship. And as a side note, you’ll notice throughout these photos that the James R. Barker produces quite a lot of exhaust smoke. This is because the Barker and her fleetmate Lee A. Tregurtha had exhaust gas scrubbers installed over the winter at Bay Shipbuilding. Both ships reentered service in early summer, and now produce significantly less emissions – the smoke is white, and is now mostly water vapor.
And that’s where I’ll stop for now. I have a few more posts coming in the next few days, so stay tuned for more of the trip!