The Great Lakes are often referred to as the ‘fourth seacoast’. Lakes bulk freighters or ‘Lakers’ come in two common varieties, self-unloaders and straight-deck bulk carriers. Self-unloaders are equipped so the crew can unload the vessel without any need for shoreside personnel or equipment. Most have a pivoting boom with conveyor; others have a system near the stern that telescopes out. The other type of laker, the straight-deck bulk carrier, or straight-decker, is designed to carry up to 30,000 tons of coal, grain, ore, stone and other dry bulk cargoes. Ranging in length from 600 to 800 feet, these lakers do not have the special self-unloading rig above deck.

Here we look at some older Lakers courtesy of Don Smith/

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