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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Ore Hoists: 1900

Ore  Hoists: 1900

Lake Erie circa 1900. "Unloading ore at Conneaut, Ohio. Brown conveying hoists." 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

On Shorpy:
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Incredibly interesting

I forwarded this to my daughter the engineering student and she was impressed. Thanks to Clare for the link to the video of the Hullets.

18 men and 1 Brown Unloader could unload 100 tons per hour

For "tons" of information on the unloading of ore boats and more, see
the Google ebook

    Iron Ore Transport on the Great Lakes: The Development of a Delivery System to Feed American Industry

by W. Bruce Bowlus. "This detailed history recounts innovations in shipping, the improvement of channels and harbors, the creation of locks, technical advances in loading and unloading equipment..."

A preview of the book is available at (try searching the book for [Brown]

Hand shoveling, Browns, and Huletts

Yes, the Huletts were a giant leap in unloading iron ore, stone, etc. over the Browns, but before the Browns, there was hand shoveling. So, the Browns revolutionized cargo unloading, and then the Huletts did it again.

BTW, the Huletts in the video were in Cleveland. Several were scrapped and several were dismantled.


The Brownhoists were all gone by 1981. Ore would have been unloaded by Huletts, which were incredible machines. Here is a link to a You Tube video of them.

Notice tied up alongside this ship is the ubiquitous "bum boat". literally a floating general store, found in almost every Great Lakes port back then. I think they are all gone except perhaps the one in Duluth.

Brown Conveyor Unloaders

Wow! Those things must have taken FOREVER to unload even a small boat (on the Great Lakes vessels in captive service on the lakes are called "boats", not ships) of, maybe, 5,000 tons.

I've never seen a picture of one of these before.

The only way I can visualize, at that time, to fill that bucket suspended from the trolley of the conveyor is to have workers hand shovel the ore in the hold into the bucket! In those days, laborer really meant LABORer.

I've always thought the Hulett unloaders that unloaded boats for the next half a century were clumsy, but they were sure a vast improvement over these Brown monsters.

Todays conveyor equipped "self-unloader" boats are a quantum improvement over the Huletts.

A transportation vehicle (railroad car, semi-trailer, boat/ship, stagecoach, or aircraft) only makes money for its owner when it's moving. Anything that can reduce terminal time is money in the bank.

Didn't change much for 80 years.

During college (1981), I worked on an ore ship. The Str Paul H. Carnahan- National Steel Corp. It was one of the last ones on the lakes that didn't have a self-unloading boom. When we went from Duluth to Cleveland or Sandusky or, yes, Conneaut, we were unloaded with this same type of machinery.
It might have been updated with Diesel power or Electricity - I don't remember.
I worked in the Galley, so I didn't have to deal with opening the hatches as in the pic.
Ahhh... youth.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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