It only took 32 years to get this shot!

I was in Port Huron, MI for the December 2014 meeting of the Port Huron and Detroit Railroad Historical Society that commemorated the 30th anniversary of the end of the railroad.

Anyway, as I was checking out of my hotel and loading the car for the trip to the Detroit airport, I was proud of myself as I was actually 15 minutes early.

And, then I heard a horn that didn’t sound like it was on modern power that would be heading into/out of the tunnel….

I thought to myself that hey, I AM a little early… and maybe, just maybe, they’re going to switch the paper mill that’s on the waterfront by the Bluewater Bridge. So…, east on Water Street I went! When I got the to the drawbridge over the Black River and looked east, I saw a headlight! And then, I saw the headlight move away from me… The low speed chase was on!

I arrived at Dunn Paper to see GTW 4909 (ex-MP) switching the mill. I got the obligatory shots with Lake Huron in the background, and also of the Bluewater Bridge in the background as the 4929 worked. And, I was dragging my feet to leave, as I’d been trying for 32 years to get a shot of a train and a Lake Boat here.

And I hemmed and hawwed and hesitated as I kept looking at the time.

I was really ready to leave as I’d pushed it about as long as I could when two cars came to a rapid halt in the parking area. Two folks with cameras around their necks jumped out. Having never seen ANYONE do that before (Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.), I figured something was about to happen here.

I saw the bow of a boat emerge from the mist! I was finally going to get my shot of a train and a Lake Boat! Well, I did, sort of, anyway. The Lakes Contender / Ken Boothe Sr. is actually an ATB – an Articulated Tug and Barge, and, to the purists, not really a Lake Boat.

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I’ll take it for now, as the closest I’ve ever lived to this area is just shy of 350 miles!

And, yes, I made my flight. I got to the gate about five minutes before boarding began!

Algoma Montrealais update.

Well, as it turns out, she made one more voyage…

Over the Christmas holiday, as a matter of fact.

I was doing a little web surfing to see if I could find out where she was, and what ultimately happened to her and discovered that she made one more turn before the end of the year.  The end of the year was also apparently the expiration date of certain certifications for operation – and re-certification would have been costly.  The folks at Algoma have received some new boats of late, and that apparently figured into the fate of the Algoma Montrealais.  The last I can find is that she’s sitting in the Montreal area.

As I was searching, I found many others captured her last voyage in image and video forms.  You can check those out by simply searching “Algoma Montrealais last voyage”.

A photographer who goes by Gales of November captured her upbound at Port Huron from the Sarnia (Ontario) shore as she was passing by the Fort Gratiot Light.  It’s a great image that you can view here.  Yeah, I know, I’m referring you to another photographer’s work – but I’m not too proud to admit that I admire the image, and that I’m a bit jealous.

Below is one of my last photos of her next-to-last downbound voyage before she disappeared into the mist south of St. Clair, MI.

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For more photos of the Algoma Montrealais and Great Lakes Boats, just click here.

You can read my original post on the Algoma Montrealais here.

Great Lakes Boats Gallery Added

The Great Lakes Boats Gallery has been added to Laughing Frog Images!

No, it’s not little boats on the Great Lakes.  What would be called a “ship” if it were on the oceans is called a “boat” on the Great Lakes.  I don’t know the story – it just is. Keep in mind that some of these “boats” are 1000 feet long!  Kinda changes ones perspective on the word boat, doesn’t it?

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On the other hand, an ocean going boat on the Great Lakes is known as a “salty.”  Ocean, salt water, well, that makes a little more sense.

There are also tugboats and barges, retired boats serving as barges, and ATBs (Articulated Tugs and Barges) like the Lakes Contender and Ken Boothe Sr. that ply the Great Lakes, and you’ll eventually see some of those here as well.

The St. Clair River between Lake Huron and Lake St. Clair is a renowned boatwatching area.

Those who follow railroading and photograph trains have

Those who follow Great Lakes boats and photograph them have, whose world headquarters is in Port Huron, Michigan in land once occupied by the Pere Marquette / Chesapeake & Ohio / Chessie System / CSX rail yards and carferry docks.

The Great Lakes Boats gallery compliments the standalone gallery for the Algoma Montrealis – the last Canadian steam ship on the Great Lakes.  The Great Lakes Boats gallery will feature boats I’ve photographed on the St. Clair River, Detroit River, St. Lawrence River, and Welland Canal over the years.  This gallery will take some time to fill out, as some of the images have to be located and scanned.

Check out the gallery for something different!

The Algoma Montrealais

I rarely do same day posts, mainly because most of my images are from somewhere in the past – be that days or decades.

Today is different, because as a result of some dumb luck, I potentially saw and photographed history and the end of an era all at the same time.

Driving south on M-29 between Port Huron and St. Clair, Michigan, I looked to my left and saw a downbound Algoma boat on the St. Clair River.  Anticipation and curiosity kicked in at the same time.

Translation: what most of us would call a “ship” is called a “boat” when it serves only in the Great Lakes.  Everything moving in the Great Lakes is either “downbound” (moving towards the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Atlantic Ocean) or “upbound” (moving generally west into the Great Lakes System).

Having read on Boatnerd last night that the Algoma Montrealais, the last Canadian steamship on the Great Lakes, was soon to be downbound on her last voyage – I realized that I had to get into position to shoot the boat, as it could be the Montrealais…  This would have been easy if I’d spent more time in St. Clair lately – it had been 30 years since I photographed a Lake Boat from the park there.  So, after a small stressful moment, I found a place to turn around, and parked by the park (no pun intended, but I’m going to leave that as it is…).

It was all of 29 degrees while I waited the few minutes for the boat to come around the corner.  I should have taken my jacket – after all, it was on the floor… but no…

And… I wasn’t alone.  Just like people photograph trains, people photograph boats.  I met Ronald Bialecki of Shipseekers Photography (Facebook page) there waiting for her.  He was smart – he had a tripod.  I had to control my breathing and shivering so I didn’t screw up my images!  Yes, I had my IS lens, but I was still worried!

As the boat came into view, and I focused on her bow – I saw that it was in fact the Algoma Montrealis downbound with wheat from Thunder Bay, ON.  Did I mention it was a rather bleak gray day?  It was, and I shot away as she curved along with the channel and met the CSL Tadoussac  upbound.  It was nothing more than dumb luck, as I had no scanner and I hadn’t checked in at the World Headquarters of Boatnerd in Port Huron to see what was moving.  But I’ll take it!

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I had missed her in Port Huron by a few minutes.  I shot the John J. Boland upbound, and I could see a boat downriver – but I thought it was upbound based on the position of the wheelhouse.  As it was a grungy day, I decided to head down to St. Clair for my original purposes (separate post to come).

The images were edited on my laptop, which is not color-profiled, so I hope they’re OK.  As this looks like instant history, I felt it’s more than appropriate to post them as-is today, and decide if I need to clean them up later.  You can find them here on Laughing Frog Images.

You’ll note that the Algoma Montrealais is a steamship, but she doesn’t look any different than other diesel-powered Great Lakes boats.  She’s relatively modern – having been built in 1961.  You can read more about here in the Winter 2014 Bearfacts Algoma Central company newsletter.

Enjoy this look at a piece of history and a moment in time that will largely go unnoticed in the grand scheme of things…