Port of Escanaba, Green Bay, and Marquette

I’m wondering if anyone with info regarding these ports (escanaba, green bay, or marquette) would be willing to share some info with me. Specifically:

  • Capacity of port for iron ore?
  • Who else uses the port?
  • How many ships a day can be loaded?
  • Time to load a Panamax freighter at the port?
  • How many piers?
  • Any upgrade plans (or was it ever discussed / permits issued)?
  • Operators of the Port?

I’m sailing as First Mate on a 730 foot Great Lakes ore carrier (self-unloader) that loads iron ore in Escanaba Mi. on a regular basis. In Escanaba the dock is owned by Canadian National Railroad. Cargo is brought into town in trains and stockpiled. Ships are loaded by an ancient belt system, with a movable loader on tracks, either off the stockpile or directly out of train cars. A typical load is a combination of both. We usually take approx 32,000 Gross tons of taconite(iron ore) per load and it takes 12 hours when things are running good with the dock systems. Up to 24 hours PLUS, when things are NOT running good on the dock. There is only one loading dock operating, although there is room on the other side of the pier for a ship our size to moor and wait. As far as bulk loading docks go, its an easy dock for crew to load at, just never know how long it might take.

There is a stone/coal dock in Escanaba where cargo is delivered for transhipment up to the mines. No ship loading is done at this dock. We usually haul stone into Escanaba, offload at the stone dock, then shift over to the ore dock for our southbound cargo.

Marquette also has an ore dock, I think its an older gravity chute dock. I’m not sure the specifics of that port as I’ve only been in there a few times. Small harbor tho.

Green Bay is more of an destination/unloading port than a loading port. Cargos going in there are usually more like stone and coal as well as some pig iron and cement. Several docks are used for unloading and most vessels are self-unloaders.

Hope this helps…

thank you very much, very helpful! so ur saying loading 32,000 tons only takes about 12 hours when everything is running well?? I’ve heard that loading a panamax usually takes 3-4 days??

thanks, and anything regarding this is much appreciated!

Most of these Great Lakes loading docks are pretty efficent. The BNSF#5 loading dock in Superior Wi. is amazing. They put 33,000 G.T of taconite in us in 4 hours and 45 minutes a couple weeks ago. 8-12 hours would be about average for all the other docks.

wow, just under 5 hours seems incredibly fast! so at escanaba the ore is loaded by (as you put it) an “ancient” belt system… do you know if there are any plans to upgrade this old system? do you know who else uses the port? how many piers are there? Thanks GreatLakesMate!

At BNSF#5 they use a multibelt system, loading 12 hatches at once. Then we shift back or forward 24 feet and load the other 12. Thats where the speed comes in. You better have a good engineer and QMED on the pumps because at that rate you can barely keep up with the de-ballasting! Actually, at that dock, we would often have to take a ballast delay after the second run, to strip the water out before we started the trim.

The ship loaders at Duluth CN Dock ( old D.M.and I.R. dock) and at Two Harbors ( also owned by Canadian National Railroad) are also multibelt systems and are very efficient. Delays come in when we follow a ship taking a differant blend of ore so the dock has to purge and restock before loading us.

The stone docks at Port Inland, Calcite,Cedarville, Stoneport, Drummond Island, and Meldrum Bay are single belt loaders. Some travel on tracks, others the ship has to shift every hatch. We load limestone at Port Inland, and Cedarville. Limestone loads go to a shallower dock so we take 26000 G.T. normally. That takes 10-12 hours as well. Usually 2000-3000 tons per hour average.

On the Great Lakes, at least with this company, we are normally in a loading or unloading port every day, unless we have a run up to the Lakehead at Duluth. Then things stretch out a bit. We HAVE taken on occasional single belt cargos of odd cargos like slag or mill scale out the Seaway that took 3-4 days to load, so maybe thats what the other guys are talking about. Iron ore and stone have become such a specialized cargo around here that they really move it.

In Escanaba, many companies use the docks but they are almost exclusively bulk carriers bringing in stone or coal and taking out iron ore. The town is a beautiful spot,with no industry around it, just a railhead and a loading dock. There is a small shipyard that gets business from tugs, fishingboats and small Coast Guard vessels. People are friendly, the local women like sailors, and there is a micro brewery that makes a great beer called “White-Tail Ale”.


In Escanaba there are three docks.
1.The CN ore dock with facilities to load one ship at a time and space on the other side of the dock for a large vessel to tie up and wait.
2. The Reiss Company stone dock, where incoming stone and coal is stockpiled until trained out to the mines.
3. Power plant dock where ships occasionally come to offload coal for the plants use.
Commercially, thats it.

No effort by CN to upgrade the ore dock, in fact management has been cutting crews and putting off maintenance work with a “fix it when it breaks” attitude.

so what docks can you load iron ore from and ship them out?

See above post

anyone with more info on Green Bay or Marquette? thanks!