An era in Great Lakes shipping history ended recently and a monument was erected to its memory, when three 70-year-old cargo barges were sunk to form a 1,200-foot breakwall extension at Ontario Hydro's 2,400,000-kilowatt Lakeview power station on the western outskirts of Metro Toronto.
The JOHN FRITZ, BRYN Barge, and JOHN A. ROEBLING carried iron ore until 1946, grain until 1960, and have been used as floating grain elevators in Goderich harbor for the past six years.
With no means of propulsion these vessels were towed by other ships. The combination was slow, difficult to handle in locks, and in storms was downright unmanageable. In the early days broken tow lines often left the barges wallowing helplessly at the mercy of the wind and waves.
"One fuel bill, two cargoes" was the idea that fostered their construction. But total cargo, for ship and barges averaged only 10,000 tons -- now single bulk carriers handle up to 50,000 tons without the barge's shortcomings. Thus Great Lake barges have gone the way of sailing ships, stonehookers, and excursion steamers to Port Daihousie.
This somewhat novel construction method which in fact uses the ships' hulls instead of sheet piling is reminiscent of the "Mulberry Harbors" of World War II. The method was chosen because it is economical and fast and permitted completion of the job before winter.
Last year, a combination of easterly winds and low temperatures created severe ice problems at Lakeview causing the station to be shut down on a number of occasions. The
extension is intended to eliminate this problem.
Two of the barges, the 415-foot BRYN hand the 450-foot ROEBLING are sunk in a line parrallel to the existing dock. The stern of the ROEBLING is notched to receive the bow
of the BRYN. The FRITZ is outside of the other two and overlaps the ROEBLING about 135 feet, making up the required 1,200-footlength.
The barges' superatructules were removed in Hamilton before they were towed to the site. Each hull was loaded with stone at LakeView until it cleared the bottom by a couple of
feet. Then they were moved, one at a time, into position and gently sunk stern first by opening the sea cocks. Trenches were dredged in the desired location to prepare a final
resting place for the gallant work horses of the Great Lakes fleet.
November 15, 1968
JOHN FRITZ Built June 22, 1898 Barge - Steel
U. S. No. 77308 4693 gt -4447 nt 436' x 50' x 24'
(b) JOHN FRITZ -Can -1945 (C 174979)
Scuttled as breakwater foundation 10 miles west of Toronto, Ontario in fall, 1968.
Frank Wheeler & Co., West Bay City Shipbuilding Master List
Institute for Great Lakes Research