Anyone traveling from Superior to Duluth during the past few years can’t help but notice a particularly striking Laker tied up near the Blatnik Bridge. The boat is the Edward L Ryerson, once labeled the “Queen of the Lake”.
Since today was a bright beautiful winter day, it was a perfect time to stop by the old girl and see how she was doing. Winter is a great time to walk across the frozen slips and get a better look at many of the boats layed up for the season.
The Edward L. Ryerson, is one of only two remaining straight-deck bulk carriers still part of the American fleet on the Great Lakes. Built by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., the new boat was launched January 21, 1960, and christened Edward L. Ryerson for the Inland Steel Co. of Chicago, IL. The new laker was the first of five American-flagged ships to be added to the "730-class" of lake boats in the early 1960's. The Ryerson became the third of thirteen 730' carriers to eventually share in the "Queen of the Lakes" title for being the longest ships on the Great Lakes.
The boat's namesake, Mr. Edward Larned Ryerson, was born in Chicago on December 3rd, 1886. He had been president of the steel service center Joseph T. Ryerson and Son, Inc. until 1935 when it was merged with Inland Steel. Mr. Ryerson was chairman of the board from 1940 until his retirement in 1953 of both Inland Steel and his original company. Mr. Ryerson died in Chicago on August 2nd, 1971.
The Edward L. Ryerson is among the most beautiful of all lakers, from her beautifully flared bow and the top of her pilot house to her significant but streamlined stack to her curved and tapered stern as well as her striking paint job, no expense or effort was spared during her building to achieve this goal. Over $8 million was reported to have been spent on the actual accommodations alone. The Ryerson was built to transport iron ore, fast at the expense of poor capabilities to haul other cargo. A conversion to a self-unloader was deferred because of excessive cost to retrofit the square holds.
The Ryerson is a fast boat and is able to reach speeds up to 19 mph earning her the nickname "Fast Eddie" as one of the quickest ships on the Great Lakes. She can carry approximately 24,869 tons, one third of today’s 1000ft lakers.
The Ryerson’s working career was placed on hold in 2009 when she laid up at Superior's Fraser Shipyard and has been on hold ever since. Economic conditions are still keeping this beautiful vessel from a return to service, but, someday, the lady may once again become a subject of delight for photographers and boatwatchers alike.
Beautiful vessel, a shame she can't be seen working as she deserves.ReplyDelete
We got to see the Ryerson in dry dock at Strugeon Bay Wis. in 2003 when my wife and sister inlaw were on vacation in Door County,I have several pictures,first trip to the Great Lakes hope to get back this year.ReplyDelete
Dennis thanks for doing a GREAT job on this website! my family of 4 love traveling too Duluth and points beyond, but you right, nothing is more spectacular than the winter scenes! thanks again! Park Rapids, MNReplyDelete
Friends of mine sailed on Fast Eddie and none had much bad to say about her (him?). Another unique thing about the vessel, is that her stack is trimmed in stainless steel, one of Inand Steel's premiere products. Their downtown Chicago office building is still in use and sports that attractive and shiny stainless steel facade to this day. Capt. Ed MontgomeryReplyDelete
The Ryerson is my husband's favorite of all the ships on the Great Lakes. We've seen her sail past our cabin many times on the Saint Mary's River in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan.ReplyDelete
The Ryerson is one of my favorite ships,to bad it was'nt build with a self unloader . The John G Munson was build with a self unloader when it was build at manitowoc. Both ships were towed out of manitowoc by the tug green bay. Read the book Freighters of manitowocReplyDelete
In 1973 I sailed as a wiper aboard the Ryerson. I look back with fond memories on those times, and the many wonderful people I had the pleasure to sail with. Deck hands like Big Lou. Jimmy Christmas, Tom Fallon, and fellow Wiper Bill Leggit, to name a few. Many great memories made that season. I salute the Pride of the Inland Fleet, and well as the shipmates I had the pleasure to sail with.ReplyDelete
Hope to see her sailing the great lakes again. Mort
My Grandfather ( John H. Leeger) captained her until he retired in the late 70's. He loved that ship, but always said that the Wilfred E. Sykes was his favorite.ReplyDelete
Your Grandfather was captain of my 1st sailing job, deckhand on the SS Joseph Block. I shipped out after long steel strike on 11/1959.Delete
Captain Leeger was an excellent man, fair, stern, expected every man to do his job. After sailing with other captains, your grandfather was one of the best!
Aw, thanks for sharing your memories. He truly loved his job, and cared for the people who worked with him.Delete
Stainless Steel was never produced, manufactured or warehoused at Inland. Our subsidiary at the time "Ryerson/Tull" purchased it from 3rd parties and offered it as part of their line.ReplyDelete
My husband sailed on the Ryerson with your grandfather. He sailed for Inland Steel from 1971 - 1986.ReplyDelete
I sailed with your husband "Big Lou" Jefferson in 1974. Have him call me at 810-844-3350. Joe Mulvany. They called me Buck.Delete
That very cool--what a trip!ReplyDelete
As most readers know, the vessel is steam operated. As time goes by, those who sailed her become unavailable to be on the vessel if it is brought out. Steam is different from diesel. Even things done by unlicensed crew members were based on experience.ReplyDelete
A replacement Winter crew member came on in 1978. In Superior, Wisconsin the new crew member closed the Port entryway leading to the engine room incorrectly. Lake Superior is a major portion of the trip between the Superior, Wisconsin loading dock and the Inland Steel harbor which was the majority of the vessel’s trips. Lake Superior was not threatening but the waves were high enough to reach the opening. That crew member was assigned to use a mop and a bucket to keep water from washing around the loosely closed opening and onto the deck. That deck is immediately above a bank of electrical panels which control everything on board. If the weather had been normal this mistake would have been corrected at the Soo without the extra effort. Safety required the problem be handled in this manner rather than opening the entryway while under way on Lake Superior and closing it properly. There was too much chance of a person going overboard. As many mop buckets, mops and crew members would have been added if they had been needed.
Due to economic problems Corvid-19 has lead to at this point in 2020, the Lake Carriers Association reports that ten vessels have not left their Winter layup docks.
The hope is that this vessel will remain dear to the hearts of its owners. I know the Board of Directors who brought three couples with them for a round trip each year enjoyed their accommodations at the forward end and the separate dining area at the Galley. The crew members liked the passengers because the cooks were amoung the best the fleet had both in food preparation from scratch and in personality. Jose Garza was the galley member who was assigned to all requests and needs of the passengers. He was the person whose recipe for salsa was the first I ever experienced. I, and many other lucky people, have that recipe.