Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Saturday, May 27, 2023

"Superior Traveler" Michipicoten arrived in Duluth 05/27/2023

Michipicoten arrived in Duluth on one of its many voyages from one side of Lake Superior to the other hauling iron ore pellets.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

The North Pier Lighthouse: Guiding Ships and Preserving History in Duluth


One of the most prominent points of interest on the Canal Cam is the North Pier Lighthouse. The lighthouse is a historical gem of maritime safety. With a century-old legacy, it has guided ships and captured the hearts of visitors. So let's delve into the captivating story of the North Pier Lighthouse.

Constructed in 1910 by architect Oliver G. Traphagen, the North Pier Lighthouse was built to aid ships entering Duluth Harbor. It has since become a cherished landmark, embodying Duluth's rich maritime heritage.

Equipped with a Fourth Order Fresnel lens, the lighthouse's powerful beam guided ships through foggy nights and stormy weather, ensuring their safe passage. Its contribution to maritime safety cannot be overstated.

 Despite facing challenges, dedicated organizations and enthusiasts have kept the North Pier Lighthouse. Restoration efforts have maintained its structural integrity and original charm.

The lighthouse's striking red hue against the backdrop of Lake Superior makes it a visual delight. Visitors can capture its timeless beauty from vantage points along the shoreline and nearby parks.

Located near Canal Park, the North Pier Lighthouse offers easy access for locals and tourists. While visitors cannot enter the lighthouse, they can enjoy scenic walks along the pier and appreciate its significance.

The North Pier Lighthouse represents Duluth's maritime heritage, guiding ships, and captivating visitors. Preserved with care, it symbolizes the bravery of sailors and the enduring connection between Duluth and Lake Superior.

Monday, May 22, 2023

"Honorable Mention" - Hon James L Oberstar departed Duluth 05/22/2023

Hon James L Oberstar departed Duluth this evening loaded with Iron ore pellets.

The Duluth Shipping Canal: Gateway to the Great Lakes


The waterway you see before you on the Canal Cam is located at the far western end of Lake Superior in Minnesota, the Duluth Shipping Canal has served as a crucial gateway between the Atlantic Ocean and the North American heartland for centuries. The canal is an engineering marvel, a testament to human ingenuity, and a centerpiece of Duluth's industrial and cultural history.

Historical Background

The Duluth Shipping Canal came into existence in the late 19th century. Its construction was motivated by a need to facilitate the flow of goods and raw materials across Lake Superior. This objective was becoming increasingly significant due to the booming industry in the region. Iron ore, grain, timber, and coal were in high demand and required an efficient transportation route.

Two entrepreneurs, William Austin, and John D. Ray, began the canal project unofficially in 1870. They took the rather bold step of digging a canal across Minnesota Point, a thin sand spit separating the St. Louis River from Lake Superior. Their action was initially controversial and only partially legal. However, the benefits of the new route became immediately apparent, and the canal soon received official sanction.

Engineering Marvel

The canal was initially a simple, man-made cut through the sand spit. However, the risk of sand filling the channel and the high waves of Lake Superior threatened its usability. This led to the construction of two parallel piers extending into the lake, ensuring that the canal remained open and navigable. The iconic Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge was later added in 1905, initially as an aerial transfer bridge, before it was altered to its current design in 1930.

The Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge is one of the city's most recognizable landmarks. It operates by lifting a section of the roadway vertically to allow ships to pass underneath, rather than using a traditional drawbridge design. When raised, a clearance of 180 feet will enable even the most massive lake freighters to pass through.

Economic Importance

Since its inception, the Duluth Shipping Canal has been central to the region's economy. Serving as the entry point to the Duluth-Superior Harbor, the largest and farthest-inland freshwater port in North America, the canal plays a significant role in North American trade routes. Annually, it sees over 900 vessel visits and handles around 35 million short tons of cargo.

The raw materials transported through this gateway, such as iron ore, coal, and grain, are vital to industries across the continent. This constant flow of goods fuels the economy, supports jobs, and provides resources for industries far removed from the shores of Lake Superior.

Cultural Significance

Over the years, the canal and the adjacent Canal Park have become cultural hubs of Duluth. Canal Park, once an industrial warehouse area, has been transformed into a bustling district filled with restaurants, shops, and hotels. Visitors can watch ships pass, learn about the area's history at the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, or enjoy the beautiful lakeside scenery.

The sight of massive freighters silently gliding through the canal, yards away from spectators, is genuinely something to behold. This daily spectacle has turned the shipping canal into a significant tourist attraction, and watching the ships has become a beloved pastime for locals and visitors.


The Duluth Shipping Canal is not just a man-made waterway but a lifeline connecting North America's heartland with the world. As we look towards the future, the canal's importance as a center of commerce, transportation, and culture will remain. Its history is a testament to the innovation and resilience of those who dared to dream, and its future holds the promise of continued relevance and vibrancy in an ever-changing world.

"Morning Boats" Hon James L Oberstar, James R Barker, & Algoma Discover...

Hon James L Oberstar, James R Barker, & Algoma Discovery motored through the Duluth Shipping Canal this morning.

Inset images by: Jeff Doty - David Schauer -

Sunday, May 21, 2023

"Gott-cha" Edwin H Gott arrived in Duluth 05/21/2023

With a cool Master Salute, the Edwin H Gott arrived in Duluth this afternoon to load iron ore pellets after stop at the Port Terminal.

"Hauling Limestone" Philip R Clarke arrived in Duluth 05/21/2023

Across Superior's azure swell, 
Moves the Philip R. Clarke, true and well. 
With heart of crew and hull of steel, 
Hauls limestone with a fervent zeal. 
From distant shores to Duluth's bay, 
Guided by the North Star's ray. 
In sunshine or in storm's harsh rhyme, 
A stalwart symbol across time. 
Anchors down as daybreaks light, 
In Duluth bay, a welcome sight, 
Her legend grows with every line, 
In the warm sunshine, 
Clarke does shine. 
Inset photo by: Jeff Doty -

Saturday, May 20, 2023

"Big Bad Barker arrived in Duluth, 05/20/2023

With a bellowing horn, the James R Barker made its arrival know with a Master Salute to the delight of a large crowd on a warm and sunny afternoon in Duluth.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

"The Switch" Candance Elise switching positions 05/15/2023

Candace Elise pushing her barge Robert F Deegan, switches from a pusher to a short tow for all to see.

Monday, May 15, 2023

" Boats in Review" Duluth 05/15/2023

Car Ferry Bayfield, Tug Candace Elise, American Mariner, James R Barker Sailboats, Fishing boats, Saltie UAL Fortitude made their way through the Duluth shipping Canal on a busy day.

"Lake Superior Steel Hauler" Michipicoten departed Duluth 05/15/2023

Michipicoten moved iron ore pellets from one end of Lake Superior to the other on a continual basis.

(Wake-Up Duluth) American Century departed, James R Barker arrived in Du...

With a mighty Master Salute from the James R Barker, Duluth received a wake-up alarm this morning like no other. Inset photos by: Jeff Doty -

Thursday, May 11, 2023

"Rattling Windows" John G Munson arrived in Duluth 05/11/2023

With it's powerful horns, the John G Munson rattled windows across Duluth with a Captains Salute followed by a Master Salute.

"Pushing Limestone" ATB Clyde S VanEnkevort / Erie Trader arrived in Dul...

The tug Clyde S VanEnkevort pushed the Erie Trader through calm water into the Duluth Shipping Canal this afternoon loaded with limestone.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

"Old Friends" James L Oberstar & Edwin H Gott - 050823

James L Oberstar (with limestone) & Edwin H Gott (with iron ore pellets) pass each other in mid-harbor as they go about their business in Duluth-Superior.

Monday, May 8, 2023

"Triple Play" Edwin H Gott, Burns Harbor & Stewart J Cort 05/08/2023

Edwin H Gott, Burns Harbor & Stewart J Cort arrived in the Twin Ports this morning to load iron ore pellets.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Thursday, May 4, 2023

"Tug Assist" Algoma Discovery departed Two Harbors 05/04/2023

With Strong winds, the Algoma Discovery needed a bit of help this afternoon departing Two Harbors loaded with iron pellets.

"Twilight Maneuvers" (Timelapse) in Two Harbors. 05/04/2023

Walter J McCarthy Jr, Algoma Discovery and Presque Isle maneuvered through Agate Bay in Two Harbors overnight.

"Overnight Shipping - American Century, American Integrity & Arthur M An...

American Century (for coal) , American Integrity (for iron pellets) & Arthur M Anderson (with limestone) arrived in Duluth overnight.