Table of Contents

Title Page
1 Introductory
2 Geological
3 Poetry of the Lakes
4 Description
5 The Aborigines
6 French Discovery and occupation
7 Story of La Salle and the Griffin
8 Struggle for Possession
9 Under English Rule
10 Beginnings of Lake Commerce
11 War of 1812
12 War of 1812, Continued
13 War of 1812, Concluded
14 Growth of Traffic
Commerce Through St. Mary's Canals
15 Early Navigation on Lake Superior
16 The Convention of 1847
17 A Half Century Ago
18 Lake Canals
19 Lake Canals, Concluded
20 Harbors
21 Lighthouses
22 Life Saving Service
23 Development of Lake Vessels
24 The Lake Carriers
25 The Sailor
26 Navigation
27 Lumber Traffic
28 Grain Traffic
29 Coal Traffic
30 Iron Ore and Iron Industries
31 Miscellaneous
33 CHRONOLOGY.The Beginnings
33 After the War of 1812
34 1821-1830
35 1831-1840
36 1841-1850
37 1851-1860
38 1861-1870
39 1871-1880
40 1881-1890
41 1891-1898
42 List of Lake Vessels
Table of Illustrations

Beginnings Of Coal Traffic On The Great Lakes -- Extent Of The Coal Traffic A Half Century Ago -- Erie And Cleveland The Chief Shipping Ports -- Competition Between Lakes And Railroads -- Facilities For Loading Coal -- Improvements In Coal Docks -- Modern Car Unloaders -- Improvements At Receiving Docks -- Receipts At Lake Michigan And Lake Superior Ports -- Shipments From Lake Erie Ports -- Freight Rates -- Future Of The Coal Trade.

THE beginning of the coal traffic on the Great Lakes dates from the completion of canals and railroads from mines to shipping ports on Lakes Ontario and Erie, prior to 1850. Occasional cargoes, or partial cargoes, were freighted from port to port as trade might demand, but growth was not rapid. The early steamers on the lakes burned wood as fuel, and at harbors that fuel also was universally used when navigation began. The substitution of coal was a slow process.

Statistics of the early coal traffic are meager and unsatisfactory. Shipments to Lake Superior, however, have been recorded in the St. Mary's canal passages, and the traffic, as shown thereby, was for many years quite unimportant. The movement of coal through the canal in 1855 was 1,414 tons. In 1861, for the first time, it reached 10,000 tons; in 1875, 100,000 tons; in 1883, 500,000 tons, and in 1886, 1,000,000 tons. The total lake traffic is now about 10,000,000 tons annually.

Extent of the Coal Traffic a Half Century Ago. -- Glimpses of the coal traffic of the Great Lakes a half century ago are afforded in the report of J. D. Andrews on lake commerce, to Congress, in 1852.

The imports of coal at Ogdensburg in 1847 were 3,000 tons; 1848, 3,054 tons; 1849, 2,500 tons; 1850, 490 tons; 1851, 371 tons. The decrease was due to the construction of the Ogdensburg railroad.

From the district of Oswego 3,213 tons of coal were exported in 1851 and 799 tons imported. The exports were anthracite; the imports bituminous.

Coming to Lake Erie the tonnage is somewhat more imposing in volume. Thus Buffalo, in 1848, imported 12,950 tons of coal; in 1849, 9,570 tons; 1850, 10,461 tons; 1851, 17,017 tons. Of the coal received in 1851, 16,229 tons arrived from Erie and 788 tons from Cleveland. Dunkirk, in 1851, received by lake 766 tons of coal.

Erie became an early exporter of coal. Mr. Andrews, writing in 1852, said, "A canal from Erie to Beaver connects it with one of the finest coal regions of Pennsylvania, and this coal being bituminous and of fine quality, is used by nearly all the lake steamers. This causes many of them to put in here, when they would otherwise continue on the direct route, for Erie is from 15 to 20 miles off the direct course from Buffalo to Cleveland. The exports of coal from Erie, in 1845, were 8,507 tons; 1846, 21,534 tons; 1851, 86,000 tons."

Cleveland was slightly behind Erie in the early shipment of coal. A little coal arrived at that port via the Ohio canal, and the construction of a railroad making rail connection with Pittsburg added to its coal resources. In 1847, 8,242 tons of coal were exported from Cleveland; in 1848, 11,461 tons; 1851, 81, 500 tons.

The total shipments of coal from Lake Erie in 1851 were 86,000 tons from Erie and 81,500 tons from Cleveland, or 167,500 tons. This was distributed generally throughout the lake region. The receipts at Buffalo and Dunkirk were noted above. Sandusky received by lake in 1851, 2,745 tons of coal; Toledo, 1,829 tons of bituminus coal and 770 tons of Lehigh (from Oswego) ; Detroit, 30,106 tons; Milwaukee, 2,177 tons; Chicago, 30,000 tons.

Coal Unloader at Ashtabula
Competition Between Lakes and Railroads. -- Between the railroads and the lake carriers there is now active competition for the coal traffic, to supply the great northwestern country with fuel. The border land between the two is shifting from year to year. The low lake freights and the vastly improved facilities for loading and unloading vessels are throwing a heavy tonnage to the lakes. Chicago receives, practically, all its bituminous coal by rail, the supply coming mainly from Indiana and Illinois mines, with a smaller tonnage from West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. For vessel fueling purposes a few cargoes of bituminous arrive by boat from Lake Erie ports. Most of the anthracite handled at Chicago arrives by boat. At Milwaukee and other Lake Michigan ports northward and on Lake Superior the coal traffic is almost wholly monopolized by the lakes. But the territory supplied by those ports is contingent upon rail conditions. The railroads are pushing their trade, and during the past year West Virginia coal has been hauled in considerable quantity by rail from mines to St. Paul, Minn., for the marvelously low freight of $2 per ton.

Facilities for loading coal on vessels have undergone a wonderful revolution in the past three or four years. The wheelbarrow gang of the old times has passed away. The improved bucket system which succeeded the primitive method has also gone into oblivion. All Lake Erie shipping ports are now provided with from one to four rapid-car unloaders. There are several types of these machines, and all perform a service more or less satisfactory. Their efficiency was amply demonstrated in 1897. During that season perhaps 80 per cent, of the lake coal was loaded on vessels after October 1, on account of the prolonged coal miners' strike during the summer months of that year. By these car dumping machines a speed has been obtained which approximates the loading of iron ore.

It is claimed that the cost of operating a complete car-dumping plant of a kind that is now in use, including the wages of the men, the necessary fuel, oil waste, etc., and allowing for depreciation, does not exceed $40 a day. The plant is guaranteed to load from cars, holding not less than 24 tons each, 3,000 tons in ten hours, and it is claimed that with the ordinary run of gondolas and hopper-bottom cars, the capacity will easily reach 4,000 tons, or in other words the cost is reduced to one cent per ton. A record of 4,700 tons in 12 hours was made at Toledo in 1897.

Improvements in coal docks at upper lake ports can scarcely be said to have kept pace with the car-dumping machines at shipping ports, but work in that direction is steadily in progress. The dock of the Ohio Coal Company at Duluth, was improved in 1897, and is a good illustration of recent progress. It is a sand-filled structure, 1,560 feet in length by 300 feet in width on which both hard and soft coal are handled. Two water fronts, one on each side, are available for docks. Double railroad tracks run through the center. These tracks are straddled by a high trestle. On top of this rest two single-rail tracks, on which are run the large conveyor trusses.

Most of the coal receiving docks on Lakes Michigan and Superior may be described as having a hoisting arrangement, to lift the loaded buckets from the vessel's hold sufficiently high to drop their contents into cars, which run back on trestles and dump automatically, although in some cases the packets are carried over the stock pile. One impressive plant has immense dome-shaped storage sheds, into which the ore is delivered and from which it is discharged by mechanical conveyors. Another interesting feature is a battery of coke ovens at West Superior, in which coal brought from the lower lakes is coked.

Lake Coal Shipments in 1897. -- In his annual report for the calendar year 1897, R. M. Haseltine, chief mine inspector of Ohio, presents a table showing the amount of coal, anthracite and bituminous, delivered at all Lake Erie ports for shipment to upper lake points. Mr. Haseltine figures out a total of 7,997,248 tons (2,000 pounds) of anthracite and bituminous shipped from all Lake Erie ports in 1897. Anthracite shipments aggregate 2,745,130 tons and bituminous 5,252,118 tons, or a decrease as compared with 1896 of 430,592 tons in the former and 513,487 tons in the latter.

Of the bituminous coal forwarded from mines to the lake ports, 3,326,814 tons were from the mines of Pennsylvania, as against 4,337,815 tons during 1896. From the Ohio fields there was forwarded to lake ports 1,355,138 tons, or an increase of 88,103 tons as compared with the preceding year. The Ohio figures represent 25 8-10 per cent. of all bituminous coal forwarded to lake ports, as compared with 21 9-10 per cent. during 1896, 32 2-10 per cent, in 1895, 28 8-10 per cent. in 1894, 46 per cent. in 1893 and 45 per cent. in 1892. From the State of West Virginia there was received at Lake Erie ports 565,166 tons, a gain of 406,449 tons over 1896. This represents 10 per cent. of the year's lake coal, as compared with 3 6-10 per cent. in 1896, 6 per cent. in 1895 and 5 3-10 in 1894.

Coal Trade in 1898. -- The feature of the coal trade in 1898 was the additional heavy gains made in the lake shipments of West Virginia coal at the expense of Ohio and Pennsylvania fields. The shipments were made via ports in Ohio. West Virginia had the advantage of a much lower mining rate than the union scale paid in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Large contracts for West Virginia coal for 1899 delivery by lake have been made. During the season of 1898 lake coal crowded back traffic from western mines by rail in Wisconsin and Minnesota. making substantial gains for the season.

Regarding this present coal traffic Dr. George G. Tunell in his "Statistics of Lake Commerce" says:

"Most of the anthracite coal consigned by lake is shipped from Buffalo. Erie, Charlotte, Oswego and Ogdensburg are the other ports shipping large quantities of this coal. But very little bituminous coal is shipped from Buffalo; in 1896 shipments amounted to but 21,000 tons. Bituminous coal is shipped from the Lake Erie ports west of Buffalo -- Erie, Conneaut, Ashtabula, Fairport, Cleveland, Lorain, Huron, Sandusky and Toledo. Cleveland has been the chief shipping port of this form of coal. "In the coal business the ports of destination are much more numerous than the ports of origin. The small ports about the lakes receive not only their own supplies of coal, but to some extent those of the surrounding country as well. The aggregate receipts of the small ports are not very large, however, and so the growth of the receipts of the large ports shows pretty accurately the increase of the business and the shifting of the great distributing centers. Fortunately we have statistics of the receipts at the great distributing ports for a long period of years. Chicago and Milwaukee, at the head of Lake Michigan, and Duluth and Superior, at the head of Lake Superior, are the centers from which the West and Northwest receive their coal."

Receipts of coal at Chicago by lake and rail since 1871 have been as follows:

ANTHRACITE EASTERN BITUMINOUS
LAKE RAIL LAKE RAIL
Tons Tons Tons Tons
1872 495,765 90,820
1873 538,837 199,107
1874 404,383 257,200
1875 474,812 273,894
1876 373,146 338,426
1877 446,046 358,713
1878 325,553 404,447
1879 464,360 282,469
1880 457,317 288,987
1881 545,312 288,161
1882 663,785 447,636 287,794 390,212
1883 738,723 506,688 214,488 630,914
1884 820,002 627,806 243,188 612,462
1885 741,866 613,054 206,817 790,169
1886 768,164 616,997 166,762 888,771
1887 853,158 845,386 123,221 1,196,324
1888 1,242,044 702,737 115,862 1,049,372
1889 1,283,811 408,514 53,684 803,552
1890 1,236,021 346,101 40,766 780,249
1891 1,310,347 543,538 976,816
1892 1,475,237 649,826 1,218,616
1893 1,424,853 668,767 1,393,614
1894 1,277,191 528,351 1,061,211
1895 1,269,512 519,685 872,198
1896 1,319,693 641,000 913,311
1897 1,233,771 542,629 1,174,231

Bituminous receipts by rail since 1890 include receipts by both lake and rail of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky coal; lake receipts are now very small and are not kept separate by the Chicago bureau of coal statistics. Receipts for 1896 and 1897 were furnished directly by this bureau.

Receipts of coal at Milwaukee by lake and rail since 1860 are shown in the following table:

LAKE RAIL TOTAL
Tons Tons Tons
1861 31,608
1862 24,860
1863 42,313 902 43,215
1864 44,503
1865 36,369
1866 66,616
1867 74,568
1868 92,992
1869 87,690
1870 122,865
1871 175,526
1872 210,194
1873 229,784
1874 177,655 11,082 188,737
1875 228,674 15,962 244,636
1876 188,444 11,957 200,401
1877 253,640 11,144 264,784
1878 237,332 3,658 239,667
1879 325,281 25,559 350,840
1880 300,425 68,323 368,568
1881 450,005 100,022 550,027
1882 510,493 83,349 593,842
1883 550,861 61,723 612,584
1884 623,018 81,148 704,166
1885 710,736 65,014 775,750
1886 714,242 45,439 759,681
1887 724,594 118,385 842,979
1888 961,164 161,989 1,123,153
1889 907,743 72,935 980,678
1890 903,659 92,999 996,658
1891 1,006,656 149,377 1,156,033
1892 1,210,865 163,549 1,374,414
1893 1,117,448 132,284 1,249,732
1894 1,229,310 107,736 1,337,046
1895 1,336,603 109,820 1,446,423
1896 1,487,483 100,312 1,587,795
1897 1,492,278 9,299 1,501,577

Receipts of coal at Duluth and Superior since 1877 has been as follows:

ANTHRACITE BITUMINOUS TOTAL
Tons Tons Tons
1878 31,000
1879
1880 60,000
1881 163,000
1882 260 000
1883 420 000
1884 372,000
1885 592 000
1886 736 000
1887 912,000
1888 1,535,000
1889 1,205,000
1890 1,780,000
1891 1,776,000
1892 531,547 1 281,014 1,812,561
1893 571,915 1,554,866 2,126,781
1894 562 222 1 448 509 2,010,731
1895 489 495 1,165,387 1 654 882
1896 496 169 1 279 523 1 775 712

Lake shipments of coal from Buffalo since 1872 are given below, from data furnished by William Thurstone, secretary of the Buffalo Merchants' Exchange. The statement includes bituminous and Blossburg coals, varying from 4,500 to 105,000 tons per year, but the great bulk of the trade is anthracite:

TONS
1873 570,443
1874 384,500
1875 439,720
1876 361,455
1877 455,074
1878 331,172
1879 580,646
1880 589,670
1881 825,240
1882 1,027,500
1883 1,467,778
1884 1,431,081
1885 1,448,086
1886 1,541,210
1887 1,912,766
1888 2,527,358
1889 2,168,343
1890 2,188,682
1891 2,404,961
1892 2,881,446
1893 2,703,673
1894 2,485,255
1895 2,617,268
1896 2,400,068
1897 2,334,329

Shipments from Lake Erie Ports. -- The following table, prepared by R. M. Hazeltine, chief inspector of mines of Ohio, shows the shipments of coal from Lake Erie ports from 1890 to 1896, inclusive:

1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895 1896
Tons Tons Tons Tons Tons Tons Tons
Buffalo, N. Y. 2 044 134 2,365,895 2,852,330 2,703,673 2,485,255 2,620,768 3,565,622
Erie, Pa. 129,304 586,990 567,028 625,023 711,928 727,184 677,095
Conneaut, Ohio 23,184 89,023 166,073 291,178
Ashtabula, Ohio 452,394 386,375 726,267 787,653 669,735 998,772 1,037,242
Fairport, Ohio 63,360 66,914 114,738 234,089 300,923 325,064 410,307
Cleveland, Ohio 922,536 1,016,487 1,728,831 1,512,308 997,513 1,055,480 1,576,583
Lorain, Ohio 227,181 288,811 351,168 526,405 303,690 277,660 137,235
Huron, Ohio 150,000 200,000 240,000 227,444 213,595 208,000 257,059
Sandusky, Ohio 271,540 157,571 157,515 195,276 261,363 223,134 281,351
Toledo, Ohio 940,000 947,288 858,935 938,533 836,232 716,099 707,655
Total 5,200,449 6,016,331 7,596,812 7,773,588 6,869,257 7,318,234 8,941,327

Freight Rates. The average of daily lake rates on anthracite coal from Buffalo to Chicago and to Duluth since 1885 have thus been prepared by the Marine Review:

CHICAGO DULUTH
1886 $ .87 $ .62
1887 1.05 .70
1888 .86 .65
1889 .52 .41
1890 .62 .43
1891 .56 .29
1892 .59 .43
1893 .49 .29
1894 .46 .25
1895 .59 .24
1896 .36 .24
1897 .29 .26
1898 .28 .23

The average wild rates on bituminous coal from Ohio ports to the ports named have been compiled as follows by the same publication:

MILWAUKEE ESCANABA DULUTH GREEN BAY MANITOWOC
1886 $0.83 $0.60 $0.87
1887 1.06 .72 .89
1888 .84 .61 .66
1889 .54 49 52
1890 .64 .45 .49
1891 .61 .52 .49
1892 .58 .43 .43 $0.55 $0.49
1893 .48 .40 .38 .50 .41
1894 .485 .39 .375 .495 .48
1895 .54 .39 .365 .50 .51
1896 .335 .27 .295 .325 .32
1897 .28 .28 .26 .30 .31
1898 .28 .26 .23 .28 .28

Future of the Coal Trade. -- There is no reason to doubt that the coal traffic of the Great Lakes will continue to increase. The needs of the Northwest are growing steadily, and nowhere in the West are there local coals available equal in value to the products of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The mining operations of the last named State are developing wonderfully, and the coal supplies are practically inexhaustible. Rail competition, fierce as it is at present, must yield to the cheaper cost of transportation by lake.

It was a feature of the Western fuel trade of 1898, that lake coal displaced rail shipments to many points in Wisconsin and territory beyond. During the winter of 1898-99, shipments of Illinois and Indiana coal crept northward into regions tributary to the lake commerce; but this mid-winter invasion was due solely to the inadequacy of lake supplies. There is perhaps no one fact that augurs more brightly for the future commerce of the Great Lakes than this bountiful resource of cheap and splendid fuel tributary to the lakes. After the iron ore deposits of the Northwest pass the zenith of their greatness, however remote that time may be, there will be treasures of coal transported upon the lakes in ever increasing quantities and the development of many important future industries upon the shores of the upper lakes will be the heritage of this growing commerce.

 


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Volume II

Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.