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III. FROM HAND SHOVELS TO HULETTS

The Pennsylvania Railroad leased the Cleveland & Pittsburgh lines and docks in 1871 for 999 years, and the road became known as the C & P Division of the Pennsylvania. Until 1889, few basic changes were made in handling equipment. But the increased speed and capacity of ships, particularly after the first iron freighter, the Onoko, was built in 1882, began to swamp the docks with ore. The great golden age of the United States’ industrial expansion was just beginning, and the burgeoning steel mills of Pittsburgh and the thrusting railroads of the west demanded ever larger quantities of steel.

Clearly, extensive handling improvements were necessary, and in 1889 the Pennsylvania inaugurated the first of its Cleveland programs applying new standards of

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efficiency in transferring ore from ships to railroad cars. The first step was the erection of four cantilever type-mechanical unloaders on Dock 1 in the old river bed. Two more were added the next year on Dock 2. The program continued in 1891 when the "Fast Plant" was built on Dock 3. marking a new advance by handling 6,000 tons of ore a day direct from vessels to railroad cars. In 1901 still another dock, No. 6, was constructed with three more unloaders. All of these facilities added up a system which could handle 2,200,000 tons of ore in a season of navigation. In the next few years its capacity was still further expanded by the adoption of clam-shell type unloading buckets and other improvements. A 10,000-ton vessel could now be unloaded in ten hours.

While the handling of ore was thus being mechanized, new equipment was also being devised to speed the transfer of coal from railroad cars to vessels. A new dock with the first effective car dumper was built in 1895-96 on the lake front east of the river. The dumper elevated a

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railroad car, turned it sideways, and spilled the coal on a funnel-shaped apron, from where it flowed through a mechanically-controlled chute into the ship. The basic principal has remained the same ever since. Various car dumpers of similar types were installed on the other docks. The present dumper on Dock 24 is the fastest of the lot and can dump thirty-five large coal cars per hour.

By 1908 the ore docks at Whiskey Island ranked as the fastest unloading plant anywhere. Engineers from many lands came to see this marvel of mechanization which the Pennsylvania Railroad had created. But the progressive Pennsylvania, looking even further ahead, now made its historic decision to scrap its Whiskey Island operation-the world’s fastest plant-in favor of a still finer, larger, and entirely new dock, to be built not in the river but on the lake front, thus eliminating the tortuous trips of the bulk freighters around the hairpin curves of the Cuyahoga.

Making of land in the West Breakwater basin of Cleveland Harbor was begun in 1910, and a year later newly designed

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unloading machines with unprecedented efficiency were installed. Four Hulett unloaders, each with a bucket of 17 tons rated capacity, were erected on new docks of reinforced concrete. The Hulett unloaders are the solid arm type, each being electrically controlled by an operator riding in a cab directly above the bucket, able to see what he is doing far more clearly than with any previous type of machine. Ore from vessels is picked up in gigantic bits and discharged first into a receiving hopper, then into a weighing hopper, and finally into railroad cars on the four tracks below, one track for each machine. The movements of cars on the four tracks is controlled by electric shunts running on a narrow gauge track between each two unloading tracks. The shunts have arms which drop on either side and engage the end sills of the cars, thus controlling the movement on two tracks serving two unloaders. With an unloading capacity of 4,000 tons an hour, the four machines have loaded 90 railroad cars of the largest type in the first hour from a full cargo of ore.

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After the first hour’s operation, the speed of the movement gradually decreases with the amount of ore remaining in the vessel so that while the initial bucket load may be as much as 20 tons, the average load for the entire cargo is 14 tons.

Along with the Hulett unloaders, a storage bridge 612 feet long, with a bucket capacity of 15 tons, was built. It covers a storage yard with a capacity of 1,200,000 tons, where ore is placed during the navigation season, to be rehandled by the bridge into railroad cars for shipment during winter months. The bridge travels on a track built on a top concrete walls and traverses the entire 900-foot length of the dock, reaching all parts of the storage yard. Equipped with a weighing hopper, the bridge can store 10,000 ton a day and load ten cars an hour.

As the spectacular efficiency of the Huletts soon eclipsed the Whiskey Island rigs, the older machines were gradually torn down and disposed of. In November, 1919, when the old power house was sold as scrap, Whiskey

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The lake front location of the ore docks eliminated countless hours
formerly spent toiling around the bends of the Cuyahoga River.

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The Lake Front coal dock picks up 35 cars an hour and dumps
their contents into vessels bound for the Upper Lakes.

Showing storage pile of ore. Steamer ERNEST T. WEIR being unloaded.

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Island’s glorious history as an ore unloading center came to an end. The Huletts and the storage bridge have continued, year after year, to meet all demands.

The conception and design of the big Huletts are the ultimate contribution made by Cleveland engineering and construction companies to the success of the docks. Virtually all of the unloading devices, beginning with the original ore unloaders of 1889, were designed and built by Cleveland companies. No record such as this would be complete without an acknowledgement of the skill and ingenuity of these organizations. In turn, the millions of dollars spent in Cleveland for the enormous machines which they devised undoubtedly played an effective part in enlarging the city’s economic structure.

From hand shovels to Huletts...from 100 tons a day to 4,000 tons an hour...that is progress and performance in the Pennsylvania Railroad tradition.

 

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