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October 9, 1906: Vessel loaded in Duluth breaks cargo record

On this day in Duluth in 1906, the steamer B. F. Jones loaded 370,273 bushels of durham wheat from several different Duluth grain elevators—the “largest cargo of wheat that was ever carried on the great lakes and…doubtless the largest cargo of wheat ever floated in the world.” The cargo was shipped by Duluth’s Ames-Brooks company, who were charged 2 3/4 cents per bushel, which made the payday for Duluth’s Interstate Shipping Company—owner of the Jones’—over $10,000, which would be more than $255,000 today. At 75 cents a bushel, the value of the cargo was over $277,000—more than $7 million in today’s dollars. The Duluth News Tribune estimated that it would take 12 trains of 30 cars each to carry as much grain as was aboard the Jones that day. The Jones was brand new in 1906, fresh off the dry docks at Great Lakes Engineering Works of Ecorse, Michigan, and she sailed the great lakes until 1955, when according to the Great Lakes Vessel Index she was “declared a constructive total loss following collision with steamer Cason J. Callaway” on the St. Mary’s River between Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. She was then scrapped at Duluth, where a portion of hull was converted to a crane barge owned by Superior’s Frasier Shipyards.

The B. F. Jones. (Image: Great Lakes Vessel Index)