Cuyahoga - registered in Nanticoke, Ontario


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The Cuyahoga is seen in this photograph transiting downbound in the Welland Canal
during the evening hours of September 27, 1997. At the time it was taken she was sailing northbound
in the canal and was nearing the approach wall above lock 2 in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

Welland Canal Classics - Cuyahoga
By contributing Editor George Wharton

This L6-S-A1 type "Maritimer" class steel bulk freighter was built in 1943 by the American Ship Building Co., Lorain, Ohio as the Mesabi for the United States Maritime Commission. She was the 10th of 16 such vessels built in a 2-year period during World War II to carry much needed iron ore to the steel mills who were mass producing tanks, artillery, aircraft, and other supplies for the war effort. The "L6-S-A1" was a plan designation of the Maritime Commission meaning a Great Lakes vessel "L"; 600 - 699 feet long (182.88m - 213.06m) "6"; steam powered "S"; the"A" being a specific design and the "1", a sub-design.

Built at an approximate cost of $1.97 million, the Mesabi was delivered to the Great Lakes Steamship Co. on August 19, 1943. She was renamed J. Burton Ayers at that time. The J. Burton Ayers was sold in 1957 to the Northwestern Life Insurance Co. who immidiately chartered her to Wilson Marine Transit Co. She was outright sold to Wilson in 1966. The J. Burton Ayers was sold to Kinsman Marine in 1972; who, in turn, sold her to Columbia Transportation Division (Oglebay Norton Co.) in 1974. She was converted to a self-unloader in 1974 at Toledo, OH. Throughout the 1980's, J. Burton Ayers she experienced several periods of inactivity and entered long-term lay-up in Toledo from 1991 through 1995. Laid up in Toledo. Her principal cargoes during this time were iron ore/taconite pellets, coal, and grain products.

Lower Lakes Towing Ltd. (Black Creek Shipping Co.), Port Dover, Ontario purchased the vessel in 1995 having her towed from Toledo to Sarnia, Ontario in August of that year for repainting and refit. Under Tow She was renamed Cuyahoga (her first renaming in 52 years) in November of 1995 after which she commenced sailing under her new colours.

The Cuyahoga was originally powered by a Lentz Poppet 4-cylinder 2,500 horsepower double compound steam engine. She retained her original power plant until it was replaced during her 1999-2000 winter lay-up in Sarnia, Ontario. The Cuyahoga is now powered by a new Caterpillar 3608 marine diesel engine rated at 3,084 brake horsepower with a Falk 9.5 to 1 reverse reduction gear box. She is equipped with a bow thruster. Her 16 hatches feed 4 holds where she is capable of carrying 15,675 tons at her maximum mid-summer draft of 7.80m (25' 05.5"). The vessel's dimensions are as follows: 188.98m (620'00") loa x 18.29m (60'00") beam x 10.67m (35'00") depth. The Cuyahoga's self-unloading system feeds a forward mounted 76.2m (250'00") discharge boom that can be swung 100 degrees to port or starboard.

Lower Lakes Towing has the Cuyahoga currently active in the stone, aggregate, salt, coal and grain trades serving various ports on Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. She can often be seen transiting the Welland Canal. The 2001 navigation season for the Cuyahoga began in late March when she departed her Sarnia lay-up berth destine for Toledo where she underwent her 5-year inspection and received a fresh coat of paint. Until a recent acquisition by her owners in early 2001, the Cuyahoga was the oldest Canadian registered "lake boat" still active on the Great Lakes.


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Posted: June 17, 1998       Last Revised: April 10, 2001
Photo by: Jeff Cameron - Copyright © - 1997, 2000

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