It’s the first day of school around here, you know.
And, can you believe it?, I have an assignment due already.
This brings to mind a recurring nightmare. You’re dreaming you’re in high school or college and you’ve forgotten to go to class. It’s six weeks into the semester and–darn it–you forgot all about Sociology 101. Now you’ve missed tests and assignments and you’re going to get an F and your heart starts pounding and you’re sweating and you’re freaking out…and you wake up. Sighing. Wondering WHY you keep dreaming that stupid dream now that you’re 53 years old and long past school assignments.
Except. I’m just about to get that F. Or at least get my knuckles rapped with a ruler by the teacher, Scott Thomas. He posted his latest photography assignment ‘way back in the summer when the sun still shined hot and it was 80-90 degrees and we waded in the lake, unmindful of school bells.
Here is his assignment (due tomorrow): Unlike my other assignments, I am asking for, at least, a three (3) photograph essay relating to Travel Photography. I know some of you cringed at the word, “essay”. I wrote a post to explain about photo essays being no more than the addition of extended captions to your photos to pull them together into an article.
OK, I did not cringe at the word “essay”. I can write an essay, darn it. I cringed at the words “three photographs”.
Because I’ve already offered you all my “good” photographs. The ones that made the heart go pitter-pat. What to do, what to do? You can’t just write an essay from days-gone-by with used pictures. No. What to do?
(I LOVE challenges. My column-writing husband threw down the gauntlet a couple of days ago, claiming I couldn’t write an interesting column about a Cowboy Caviar recipe. Every one of my hackles stood up! “Can so!” I muttered at his retreating back. Please read the silliest column in the history of the blog and let me know if I–sort of–met the challenge.)
Back to the travel essay. I only took two “official” trips this summer, although please remind me if you remember others. The first one was in June–a road trip to lower Michigan to visit Mom, Dad, brothers and families. Very fun! The second was our cruise to Duluth, Minnesota, last month. Any cached photos from either of these trips?
Ah-ha! The freighter tour.
Yes, my birthday present.
For some reason, my heart wasn’t into showing you our tour of a Great Lakes freighter on our Duluth trip. But the photos still sit at-the-ready awaiting display. Please pay your $10 and hop aboard. Let’s tour the William A. Irvin.
The SS William A. Irvin is a lake freighter which sailed as a bulk freighter on the Great Lakes as part US Steel’s lake fleet. She was flagship of the company fleet from her launch in the depths of the depression in 1938 until 1975 and then as a general workhorse of the fleet until her retirement in 1978. (I’m sorry, teacher, this isn’t plagiarism, it really isn’t plagiarism. Maybe it is. A little.)
The Irvin was launched November 21, 1937 at the yards of the American Ship Building Company in Lorain, Ohio. Her maiden voyage began June 25, 1938. The Irvin was first of a four vessel class, each costing about 1.3 million dollars. After christening by William Irvin’s wife, Gertrude Irvin, and sea trials, the boat went to work hauling bulk materials from the tip of Lake Superior down to US Steel’s mills of Lakes Michigan and Erie. She and her three sisters incorporated many technological features in their design and proved themselves excellent workers. The Irvin also hauled many company guests in the boat’s exceptional luxury on behalf US Steel. She steamed for the Pittsburgh Steamship Division of US Steel for her entire career. (footnote, Teacher, this all comes from Wikipedia but it’s been edited!)
On August 27, 1940 the Irvin set a record by unloading 13,856 tons of ore in 2 hours and 55 minutes using Hulett Unloaders. This record still stands as of 2007 and is unlikely to be broken, because all ships today use automatic self-unloaders in the bottom of their cargo holds. The Irvin is one of few Great Lakes vessels to be retired still holding a current Great Lakes cargo record. The Irvin had one of the smallest capacities when the ship entered final layup in 1978 due to the addition of the fleet’s first 1000′ oreboat.
The Irvin sat in layup in West Duluth for 8 years until a non-profit organization purchased her for $110,000 for an addition to their convention center along the Duluth waterfront. The Irvin was repainted and sealed up before heading to her final dock near the Aerial Lift Bridge where she sits today. (Is this enough info? Not yet?)
Here’s a fact that you surely want to know: The Irvin stretches 610 feet. That makes her (him?) little compared to modern-day freighters which span over 1,000 feet. Look closely at the following photo. You can see one of the modern-day freighters coming through the Duluth waterways.
Finally, wrapping up this essay, let’s peer at a modern-day freighter up close.
Phew! Handed in before deadline. No nightmares tonight. Just have to wait and see if I passed… You want to start the school year off on a good foot, you know!