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Wheat Spouts: 1941

Wheat Spouts: 1941

August 1941. "Closing up hold of a grain boat. Superior, Wisconsin." Medium format acetate negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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From a Deckhand

I did this (placed wooden covers on the hatches) exactly 60 years ago this past last week of November in Superior -- perhaps even at the same grain dock. Note the neat lifting handles for hatch cover pieces.

Then put those canvas tarps over the hatches, put those battens over the tarp edges and pounded wedges (maybe in the buckets) between battens and wedge holders at the start of a below-freezing trip to Cleveland with storage grain on the final voyage of the SS Price McKinney. She was towed across the Atlantic and broken for scrap in 1961.

She might have been the last vessel with wooden hatch covers in entire US Great Lakes fleet in 1959.

Tears froze on my face as blown chaff stung it as we battened down on leaving Superior that night. Fortunately, and unusually for that time of year, we had low wind and relatively calm seas on the trip. Chaff was blown mostly by our 10 knots and light breeze.

You can see the chaff blowing out of the chutes and clouding the guys standing on deck downwind. Upwind guys were probably the Mate and the boss and helper from the grain dock.

Smokin on the Hold Deck

My understanding is that grain dust can be highly explosive -- guess the guy in the cap is willing to take that chance.

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