Tuesday, January 24, 2017

More Ore Bridge Lore… and More – Part 2

In his email, Dennis Lamont also had some insights on the Huletts and their gradual phasing out at the Lorain steel mill.
“Lorain's curved dock was a marvel, and the Huletts made it even better,” he observed. "Starting out at ten tons in a bucket, the last monsters took out twenty tons at a bite!  However, as the freighters grew in length, the farther away – and harder to unload – the center of the boat became.  
"Lake freighters have a loading and unloading sequence that has to be balanced to keep the boat from breaking. They get a visible twist to them while this is going on. In order to increase the reach safely, several ingots were wedged into the back of the superstructure of each machine to keep them from tipping."

Here is some footage of Huletts in action at Cleveland, courtesy of YouTube.

But getting back to the Huletts at the Lorain mill, Dennis continued. "Self unloading freighters eliminated all this, and brought in the conveyor system. The river couldn’t handle 1,000-footers to maximize efficiencies; the turning basin was too short. They couldn't back out. U. S. Steel couldn’t afford to transload like they did at the pellet terminal."

Courtesy Dennis Lamont
Dennis also shared a great photo (at left) of the Huletts unloading his "favorite ship” – the Thomas W. Lamont. Was Dennis related to the man for whom the ship was named?
No, but Dennis has a good story about that anyway. 
As Dennis explained, "When I first started at the plant, I was down at the docks when the Thomas W. Lamont was being unloaded.  
"I turned to the dock foreman and said, “Oh, look! They named a boat after Uncle Tom!" He looked at my hard hat (with LAMONT on it) and said, “WOW!”  
The book A Sailor’s Logbook: A Season Aboard Great Lakes Freighters by Mark L. Thompson notes that “U. S. Steel certainly hasn’t been very creative in naming their ships during the second half of the twentieth century. Most have been named for company officials or former company officials, men who aren’t particularly well known outside the steel industry."
That was the case here as well. Dennis noted, “Thomas W. Lamont was Andrew Carnegies’ right-hand man, and a high ranking government official during WWI – and of course no relation.  
"Thomas Lamont was a genuine Scotsman; the Lorain Lamonts were redubbed that at Ellis Island as being easier on the eye than the original Sicilian.”

Dennis’ “Uncle"

Thanks to Dennis for sharing his reminisces.


Rick Kurish said...

Years ago I had occasion to talk with a man who operated the Hulett unloaders at the steel plant. If I remember correctly, he said the operator rode in a small cab on the bucket arm, which could handle 15 to 20 tons of ore per bite. He said riding the arm in and out of the ship was kind of scary -- until you got used to it. I think he said the Hullett's were in use at the Lorain Plant until the mid 1980s.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I didn't know Dennis is Sicilian! No wonder I like him so much.

Chuck Short
Jackson MI

Alex Figueroa said...


Im not sure if this'll flag in your system since this article is so old. But I'd love to be able to get in touch with Dennis in regards to all of his Steel Mill lore if possible!