"The barge-tug combo Great Lakes Trader-Joyce L. VanEnkevort arrived in Duluth on Tuesday morning to pick up a load of iron ore pellets. It already was carrying a cargo of ice". Alternate YT link (ambient sound only, no narration). On Monday of this week, the US Coast Guard began ice-breaking operations on the Great Lakes. Here in photos.
There, visible on a video screen aboard their 24-foot boat, was the wreckage not of some long-lost schooner or ill-fated freighter, but rather a railroad locomotive. Canadian Pacific Railway Locomotive 694, to be exact, which crashed into the lake from the cliffs above in a violent collision of metal and rock before sunrise on the morning of June 10, 1910.
"I was so used to driving and flying, my understanding of North America had become distorted. Then I took a slow boat through four Great Lakes. I saw every mile." [more inside]
"In August 1868, a double-masted Canadian schooner named the Royal Albert was en route to Toledo, Ohio, loaded down with 285 tons of railroad iron when the heavy cargo suddenly shifted. The iron rails busted the hull open and sent the ship to the bottom of the lake. While the crew survived, the ship was lost for nearly 150 years—until earlier this month, when a group of underwater explorers finally discovered it." [more inside]
And it’s even easier with a bit of international cooperation: Time lapse video of USCGC Bristol Bay and CCGS Samuel Risley working together to break ice from Sarnia to Windsor, Ontario, in one day. Further inland, Amphibex icebreaking machines are used to break ice on the Red River in Manitoba to prevent flooding from ice jamming ahead of spring. That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to icebreaking... [more inside]
I anticipated there would be some ice stacking as the massive sheets of ice met the rugged shorelines, so I headed to Brighton Beach.
Ontario photographer Dave Sanford's photos of waves on Lake Erie capture weather conditions on the world's eleventh largest lake. Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes, with an average depth of only 62 feet (19 metres). This makes it prone to a weather phenomenon known as a "seiche." [more inside]
On November 10, 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald sank off Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior. In the intervening years, weather researchers have compiled and simulated the data of the weather that led to the sinking. In 2010, Gordon Lightfoot revised the lyrics to his famous song about the sinking, based on claims that a "rogue wave" was enough to cause the Fitzgerald to sink. [more inside]
One person's harbinger of river health is another's slayer of kings is another's invasive species. Take, for example, sea lampreys. They are making a comeback in rivers around the UK thanks to conservation efforts. [more inside]
Winter on Georgian Bay : “Highlights of a four-month time-lapse taken from a cottage overlooking Lake Huron, during an absolutely epic winter.” [via mefi projects]
- "Tiny plastic beads used in hundreds of toiletries like facial scrubs and toothpastes are slipping through water treatment plants and turning up by the tens of millions in the Great Lakes. " (NYT)
100 years ago a storm on the Great Lakes sank dozens of ships I found it a riveting story. "It reads like the tale of the Titanic times a factor of at least a dozen. Freighters thought invulnerable to the weather cracked in two. Hundreds of sailors drowned. Sad farewell messages tucked inside glass bottles washed up on Lake Superior beaches. The “White Hurricane,” a cataclysmic storm which pounded Michigan 100 years ago this week, was quite simply the biggest, deadliest natural disaster ever to hit the Great Lakes. It’s also one of Michigan’s most epic tales. "
Spring Rain, Then Foul Algae in Ailing Lake Erie: [New York Times]
"A thick and growing coat of toxic algae appears each summer, so vast that in 2011 it covered a sixth of its waters, contributing to an expanding dead zone on its bottom, reducing fish populations, fouling beaches and crippling a tourism industry that generates more than $10 billion in revenue annually."
The Northern Cities Vowel Shift is radically changing the sound of English: Despite fears that the growth of TV and radio would homogenize English dialects in the US, the Great Lakes region (from Syracuse to Milwaukee) has been in fact diverging with respect to how people there pronounce English words. Rob Mifsud writes: Consider the three-letter words that begin with b and end in t: bat, bet, bit, bot, and but. All five of those words contain short vowel sounds. Their long-vowel equivalents—bate, beet, bite, boat, boot, and bout—arrived at their modern pronunciations as a result of the Great Vowel Shift that began around 1400 and established the basic contours of today’s English. But those short vowels have remained pretty much constant since the eighth century—in other words, for more than a thousand years. Until now. [more inside]
A catastrophic freeze has wiped out about 80 per cent of Ontario’s apple crop and has the province’s fruit industry looking at losses already estimated at more than $100 million. "Warm temperatures got fruit trees blooming early and when temperatures plummeted Sunday morning it damaged or wiped out much of the $60 million apple crop and 20 to 30 per cent of Ontario’s $48 million tender fruit crop which includes peaches, cherries, pears, plums and nectarines." Also see Michigan (tart & sweet cherries, apples, pears - "what sets this year apart is not just the severity of the damage but the variety of fruits affected") and western NY ("The erratic Rochester weather has taken its toll on local fruit crops... as much as 90 percent of apples, peaches, cherries, and raspberries in the area [are] destroyed").
Waterlife — No matter where we live, the Great Lakes affect us all. And as species of fish disappear and rates of birth defects and cancer rise, it seems one thing is clear: the Great Lakes are changing and something's not quite right with the water. An interactive documentary film from the National Film Board of Canada. [more inside]
One among many interesting pieces of Great Lakes freighter history: This ship is also this ship. The explanation - and everything else you ever wanted to know about the massive, but largely unknown freighters of the Great Lakes - is on Boatnerd. [more inside]
When most people think of the Great Lakes, surfing is the last thing that comes to mind. Unsalted seeks to expose the unique world of Great Lake surfers. [more inside]
When the Waves Turn the Minutes to Hours It's been 30 years since Lake Superior November gales claimed the Great Lakes ore freighter Edmund Fitzgerald. The sinking immortalized in song by Gordon Lightfoot is also documented at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum on a spit of land in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan a mere squinting distance on a clear day from where the Fitz actually went down. Here in Detroit, of course, the bells will ring at Mariner's Church -- where a lone priest reacted to the sinking by ringing the church's bells 29 times, once for each man lost. (previously discussed (kinda) here (among others)
It is the middle of November, better get your boat off the Great Lakes. Nautical fans might wish to purchase this excellent model of the Edmund Fitzgerald, sunk 25 years + 2 days ago today.