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The two RV Gypsies learned about ore docks and more
when they visited Lake Shore Boulevard
and Presque Isle Harbor, in Marquette, Michigan

September 9, 2015

Marquette is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the most populated city in the Upper Peninsula. Marquette is a major port on Lake Superior, primarily for shipping iron ore. In 2012, Marquette was listed among the 10 best places to retire in the U.S. by CBS Money Watch.

Lakeshore Parking Lot sign Lower Harbor Ore dock sign
Marquette Lower Harbor Ore dock sign
Lower Harbor Ore dock Lower Harbor Ore dock

An ore dock is a large structure used for loading ore (typically from railway cars or ore jennies) onto ships which then carry the ore to steelworks or to transshipment points. Most known ore docks were constructed near iron mines on the upper Great Lakes and served the lower Great Lakes. Ore docks still in existence are typically about 60 feet wide, 80 feet high, and vary from 900 feet to 2,400 feet in length. They are commonly constructed from wood, steel, reinforced concrete, or combinations of these materials.

They are commonly used for loading bulk ore carriers with high mass, low value ore, such as iron ore, in raw or taconite form.

The typical construction of an ore dock is a long high structure, with a railway track or tracks along the top with a number of "pockets" into which ore is unloaded from cars, typically by gravity. Each pocket has a chute that can be lowered to discharge the ore into the hold of a ship berthed alongside. The use of pockets and chutes allows loading the dock asynchronously of its discharge into the freighter.

The docks storage bins or pockets typically are wider at the top than at the bottom, and lead to movable steel chutes. These chutes project out over the water at a slight angle from the sides of the docks. The hinged chutes, which when lowered allow ore to drop onto ships from the pockets, are located at twelve-foot intervals over the length of the dock.

This spacing is not coincidental. Hatch spacing is typically 12 or 24-foot on center.

Lower Harbor Ore dock Lower Harbor Ore dock

The pocket ore dock of the Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad in Marquette represents a historically significant engineering feat. It was the first such dock of its type constructed on the Upper Great Lakes and is the only operating ore-loading facility in Marquette's harbors. Iron ore ships are loaded daily. The Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic Railroad awarded a contract on April 1, 1931 to Merrit, Chapman & Whitney, a firm from Duluth, to construct a pocket dock in Marquette's lower harbor for an estimated $1.8 Million. Construction began on April 16 of that year, and the project was completed the following spring, with a price tag of $1.35 million. The trestle & dock were owned over the years by several railroads. The dock was officially closed on December 31, 1971 when ore shipments were diverted to Escanaba. While in operation, it ran a ten-man crew, and in 1968, handled over 1 million tons of ore.

Lower Harbor Ore dock
Lower Harbor Ore dock and pier

Two two RV Gypsies liked the buoys in the water that carry the USA Flag.

Lee Duquette on the pier buoys in the water that also carry the USA Flag
buoys in the water that also carry the USA Flag buoys in the water that also carry the USA Flag
Marquette's Lower Ore Dock
Marquette's Lower Ore Dock Karen Duquette
neat houses in a row Coast Guard boat

Walking a bit down the street in Marquette, the two RV Gypsies saw several interesting monuments.

sign: Marquette's Fire Bell

Standing under Marquette's Fire Bell, Karen took a picture looking straight up into the bell itself.

Marquette's Fire Bel Marquette's Fire Bel
Marquette Fire Department sign
Memory Garden sign Memory Garden
Gone but Not Forgotten monument Gone but Not Forgotten monument
WW II Memorial WW II Memorial

The two RV Gypsies got several different views of the ore dock.

Lee Duquette and the ore dock the ore dock

The two RV Gypsies stopped to have a picnic lunch and enjoyed the view.

lunch time scenery lunch time scenery

Driving a bit, the two RV Gypsies came across the Presque Isle Square - a small community on the shore of Lake Huron.

Presque Isle Square sign Presque Isle Square bridge

Presque Isle is a small unincorporated community within the township located near the shore of Lake Huron. The community and the township are named for Presque Isle (literally, "almost an island") which is French for "peninsula". A large part of the township consists of that peninsula, with Lake Huron on the east and Grand Lake on the west and narrows strips of land connecting it to the mainland at the north and south ends. The community of Presque Isle is situated near the center of this peninsula.

Another Ore Dock

Another Ore Dock sign Another Ore Dock
Another Ore Dock Another Ore Dock
Another Ore Dock and the Superior Dome

The two RV Gypsies strolled on the breakwall and enjoyed the scenery.

warning sign breakwall
scenery scenery

The two RV Gypsies found a scenic drive with several stops for photographs. Looking way down below from a very high cliff, they noticed a lone swimmer, and wondered where and how he entered the lake, and where he planed on getting out of the lake.

looking through the trees down at the cliff lone swimmer

The Superior Dome, which opened as the "world’s largest wooden dome" on September 14, 1991, is a domed stadium on the campus of Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan. It is home to the Northern Michigan Wildcats football team, as well as a variety of campus and community events.

The dome is 14 stories tall, has a diameter of 536 feet and covers an area of 5.1 acres. It is a geodesic dome constructed with 781Douglas Fir beams and 108.5 miles of fir decking. The dome is designed to support snow up to 60 pounds per square foot and withstand 80-mile-per-hour winds. It has a permanent seating capacity of 8,000, though the building can hold as many as 16,000 people. The 2010 edition of Guinness World Records listed it as the fifth-largest dome and the largest wooden dome in the world.

world's largest wooden dome inside the Superior Dome

The dome features a retractable artificial turf carpet, the largest of its kind in the world. When extended, the turf can accommodate football, soccer, and field hockey. Underneath the carpet is a synthetic playing surface that features three basketball/volleyball courts, two tennis courts and a 660 foot track. The carpet is winched in and out of place on a cushion of air. Retracting the turf carpet takes 30 minutes, with full setup taking approximately two hours. President George W. Bush held a campaign rally in the stadium during the 2004 Presidential campaign.

Superior Dome view as seen by the two RV Gypsies from across Lake Superior.

world's largest wooden dome
look below

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