The Great Lakes Area

The Great Lakes area, bounded generally on the north by Canada and on the south by the United States, contains probably the greatest industrial complex of the world. The steel plants here producing more than 30% of the world’s steel, have called for over half a century upon the iron resources (and the coal and limestone) of the continent. And the extensive agricultural areas have produced vast harvests of grain which have been transported in large measure by way of the lakes route and by means, largely of specially developed ships, during the navigation season.

The variety of general cargo that moves on the Great Lakes and the Seaway is most diverse, however, and is present also in considerable volume.

With an area of about 1,200,000 square miles (one-sixth of North America) and a population of about 65 million (slightly less than one third the combined United States-Canadian population), it produces about 78 percent of the North American steel, adds half the value of its manufactures and produces more than 40% of its food and feed.

To handle inland traffic there has developed a special type of vessel, the North American "laker". These vary in size, but the smaller ones are tending to disappear from the system, outmoded by the large size ships, many of which are as much as 730 feet in length with a 75-foot beam. Today there is talk of still longer ships to be built, up to 1000 feet in length.

These large ships can carry cargoes up to 25,000 tons of iron ore or 1,000,000 bushels of grain and are no longer confined to the Great Lakes but may proceed by means of the Seaway, to ocean ports.

Many of the world’s largest merchant ships come into the Lakes by means of the Seaway. Some of these vessels exceed 550 feet in length and can carry a cargo of over 14,000 tons into or out of the Great Lakes.

The construction of large locks and the deepening of channels from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to Montreal, Quebec on the world’s longest stairway has brought ships of all nations to our doorsteps.

From the heartland of America to the heartland of the World, we dedicate this book.