Winter on the Great Lakes

M/V American Century
M/V American Century, St. Mary's River Jan 2016 - photo by JB

Reader JB sent in these images of the American Century heading up bound on the St. Mary’s River towards Lake Superior today. “No doubt will be taking on a few more tons of ice crossing Superior”, comments JB.

The M/V American Century is owned and operated by the American Steamship Company and prior to it’s purchase in 2006, was formerly known as the Columbia Star.

Columbia referred to the brig Columbia that carried the first cargo of iron ore through the St. Mary’s Falls Canal in 1855. Star referred to the star that Oglebay Norton vessels formerly carried on their smoke stacks.

The M/V American Century sailed its maiden voyage in ballast from Sturgeon Bay, WI in May of 1981 to load iron ore pellets at Silver Bay, MN for delivery in Lorain, OH.


The M/V American Century was built by Bay Shipbuilding Corp. at Sturgeon Bay, WI in 1981.


The M/V American Century is powered by four 3500 HP General Motors Electro Motive Division (EMD) diesel engines. The vessel uses a conveyor system below its cargo holds to transport cargo to a “loop conveyor” system that elevates the cargo to the massive deck-mounted boom conveyor. For maneuvering in port, the vessel is equipped with 1,500 HP bow and stern thrusters.


The M/V American Century is primarily used for long-haul transport of iron ore pellets and western coal on the Great Lakes.