Thirty years ago it was relatively easy to go for a cruise on a Great Lakes freighter, but these days, for a variety of reasons, it is next to impossible. I was especially honored to have been invited aboard the Stewart J. Cort, because it is the very first of the thousand-foot freighters built to operate on the Great Lakes. There are 13 of them in service at present.
These mighty boats are longer than the Titanic and just a bit shorter than a modern aircraft carrier. The Welland Canal, which is the shipping channel that bypasses Niagara Falls and connects Lakes Ontario and Erie, is too small to accommodate these giants, so they operate only in the upper Great Lakes above Niagra. At Sault St. Marie — the site of the Soo Locks connecting Lake Superior to the other Great Lakes — there is only one lock, the Poe, that is large enough to handle the thousand-footers.