Sunday, March 20, 2005
A new Twin Ports shipping season got under way Thursday as the James R. Barker loaded coal at the Midwest Energy Resources Co. terminal in Superior. The 1,004-foot-long vessel was scheduled to leave Thursday night carrying 57,000 tons of coal up the North Shore to fuel generators at Minnesota Power's Taconite Harbor plant. The Coast Guard Cutter Alder planned to escort the Barker during its first trip of the season. The Soo Locks won't open until March 25, but before that, Midwest will begin to serve customers on Lake Superior. "We like to get a jump on the season," said Fred Schusterich, Midwest's president. The Barker is expected to return to Midwest this weekend for another load of coal, which it will haul on Lake Superior to a power plant in Marquette, Mich. In 2004, Midwest shipped 18.8 million tons of coal through its Superior terminal. Schusterich said he expects business at the facility to surpass 20 million tons this year. Last year, Midwest's first shipment of coal left the Superior terminal March 17, as well, but it was the Paul R. Tregurtha, not the Barker, breaking trail.