Claire W. Schumacher is a life-long resident of Proctor, and author of several books on local history, including The Whiteside Island Story, Ghostly Tales of Lake Superior and the fictionalwork Ore Dust in Her Shoes. She recalls her teen years, when she worked for the Duluth/Mesabi Iron Range Ore Docks towards the end of World War II. The men were returning and wanted jobs, including hers.
Claire recounted how the men didn’t want her to do well at her job, working the rails carrying iron ore down to the docks and the waiting ships. “They never told me that I was supposed to say ‘Leave the crummy on the high’- that meant, leave the caboose up on 40th Avenue West.”
For the most part she enjoyed her job, watching sunrises coming up over the hills when she worked night shifts, and even getting an opportunity to visit one of the big ships in the harbor. Since the St. Lawrence Seaway didn’t open until 1959, these 1000-foot Laker ships were from Cleveland, Chicago and Buffalo.
“One time, on my lunch time I was down below (we had to run up those steps, no elevator, 75 steps to get up to the office) and for some reason someone told us we could go up on a ship that was right there. I had a red suit on that day, I remember, because I got in trouble. They [people on board the ship] were really nice to us, showed us all around. But as I moved around the ship, they could see me from up above because of the red suit and they were hollering at me to get back to work I had never seen a ship before, it was fun.”
Family history in the Port abounds
Andy McDonald has been a principal planner for the Duluth-Superior Metropolitan Interstate Council (MIC) for the past 15 years, but his roots go back much further. “I do have a little bit of a family history with the port around here. My grandfather worked the tugs [until 1958 just prior to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway]. My dad was a school teacher, so to supplement his income in the summer time he’d work at the grain elevators.”
The Commission Andy works for provides guidance and leadership on transportation and land use planning issues in the area, and the HTAC is one of three committees that advise them on Port-related issues, including dredging. In order for the harbor to accommodate the big ships, channels must be maintained to depths of 28 feet, depending on location, and areas must be found to place the dredge materials.
“Everybody, from the Izaak Walton League to the dredging company, sits around the same table four times a year.” – member of theHarbor Technical Advisory Committee (HTAC).
Education on re-using dredged materials is very important
According to Andy, finding areas to place dredge materials is a big challenge.
Issue: Dredge disposal facilities are filling up. Some dredge sediments contain copper, a contaminant that is above levels for residential use, yet it occurs naturally in the region’s sediments.
Idea: Develop a processing and re-use facility on thesame site as the dredge materials. Co-locating the processing and re-use facility will make it possible to re-use as much sediment material as possible.
“The material is relatively clean, and what we have to do now is find uses for it, educate the people that it’s safe, it’s a resource,” explains Andy.