The film above was discovered with no info such as who shot it, or when and where the scenes were captured. It clearly features Duluth at the beginning and end, however, and appears to be circa 1937.
“What we do know is that it was taken onboard a Great Lakes freighter by an amateur cameraman with what looks like a 16mm silent movie camera,” notes the Speed Graphic Film and Video description on YouTube.
Can anyone find clues to help date the film? The obvious one is that it was shot after the Aerial Bridge was converted to a lift bridge in 1929.
The description includes this speculative outline:
0:05 – Loading the cargo. Appears to be coal.
0:38 – Entering a set of locks. Location unknown.
1:09 – On board the freighter are three well-dressed couples and a younger woman. Who are they? Lost to time.
1:18 – The Great Lakes Steamship Company’s Horace S. Wilkinson is seen passing through the locks. Built 1917, converted to a barge 1962.
1:25 – On a broad channel next to a city. Could this be Cleveland?
2:12 – The three older women debark. It takes courage to wear white on a freighter.
2:39 – Hulett unloaders go to work unloading the cargo. Again, location unknown.
3:22 – Brief shot of the R. R. Richardson of Duluth. Built 1902 as the J. M. Jenks. Renamed R. R. Richardson, 1916. Renamed Ralph S. Caulkins, 1942.
3:31 – Shot of a man (the captain?) in the forward wheelhouse. Another shot of the other men and the young woman.
3:45 – Passing under Duluth’s iconic lift bridge.
As for the opening scene, it appears to be shot in West Duluth at the DM&IR Ore Docks. Various docks were built and torn down there in the early 20th Century, but by 1927 docks 1, 2, 3 and 4 were gone. So, in theory, we should be looking at Dock 6 on the left and Dock 5 on the right, correct?
Across the bay are coal docks in Superior.
Dock 5 is the still-standing dock that isn’t used anymore; Dock 6 is the still-functioning dock. Both are presently controlled by Wisconsin Central Ltd., a subsidiary of Canadian National Railway.
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