We love to watch freighters.
As long as the Terminal Tower is tall, the ships are eye-catching, mesmerizing, romantic vestiges of industrial glory days. We can’t get over their size, whether they’re powering through Lake Erie or pivoting around the hair-pin curves of the Cuyahoga River.
They’re more than a pretty sight on the horizon. Shipping on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway supported $35 billion in economic activity last year, $3.8 billion of that in Ohio, according to a July report by the Great Lakes Seaway Partnership.
Lakers — so named because they’re too big to leave the Great Lakes — make up 95 percent of the freighter traffic on the Great Lakes. Much of them unload at the Port of Cleveland’s bulkhead terminal west of Whiskey Island, then transfer their goods to slightly smaller, river-class ships that can navigate the river up to the ArcellorMittal steel mill, including the Buffalo and the Dorothy Ann-Pathfinder. The laker schedules are not published and are constantly changing, though you can see ships’ locations on a live feed from Boat Nerd.
Salties, so named for ocean saltwater, are thinner and arrive about 10 times a month.
Ships make about 450 round trips on the Cuyahoga each year, a floating conveyor belt of iron ore, stone, cement, asphalt, and salt, among other commodities.
Here are the ships scheduled to visit Cleveland, according to the Port of Cleveland: