Here is the James R. Barker leaving Duluth this morning. Notice all the ice in the harbor and in the canal. The Barker has a very distinctive horn. A few people were there to see it off at 7:53 am (local time) this morning standing in a chilly 24 degrees F (-4 C) in Duluth.
Shipping did not stop on the Great Lakes during Christmas. Many people must work on Christmas from emergency responders to retail workers that have to work in grocery or convenience stores over the holiday. The same goes for crews of Great Lakes freighters that load and unload cargo during the Christmas season and in particular Christmas Day. Ore and bulk freighters carry raw materials needed by power plants, factories, and other things. That means ship crews need to work over the holidays so that these raw materials get delivered. Such was the case of the Mesabi Miner which departed from Duluth on Christmas Day.
Of course the crews do celebrate Christmas aboard ship. Most ships these days have comfortable crew areas where they can get fed and relax. So no doubt they had Christmas decorations up, music playing, and of course some Christmas food as well. And when they get home (and the shipping season generally ends at the end of December and early January) they will probably have celebrations when they get home once their ship is laid up for the season (until late March or early April depending on the weather) .
We should never forget those who do provide essential services during the Christmas season. They work in the background to get things done that benefit us all.
The Great Lakes has seen scores of shipwrecks lost to nature, poor seamanship, bad designs, and just plain bad luck. A new exhibit at the Grand Rapids Public Museum shows how 13 ships all met their end and why. The exhibit opens 10 Nov and includes information about the SS Milwaukee, Carl D. Bradley and the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition will open in February 2013.
The exhibit is free with general admission. For information on hours, tickets and other information, go to grmuseum.org.