Located on the shores of Lake Erie at Whiskey Island in Cleveland

four unloaders shown before their recent dismantlement


Built in 1911 on the Pennsylvania Railway Ore Dock, this was the largest ore-unloading dock on the Great Lakes.  The dock featured four Hulett Unloaders with bucket capacities of 17 tons and a one-million ton ore storage yard.  The huge hydraulic unloaders were invented and developed by Clevelander George Hulett during the late 1890's, and revolutionized the handling of iron ore by reducing labor costs and drastically improving unloading times (unloading was previously done by hand using shovels and wheelbarrows).  By 1913, 45 Hulett unloaders were in use at almost every port on Lake Erie.  They quickly overtook the industry and led to the creation of larger ships that were specially designed to accommodate the Huletts.


"If you can imagine riding on a dinosaur's head while he's feeding, you can imagine how it feels to operate a Hulett.  In repose, this monster is the ugliest, ungainliest machine ever made.  In action, it's sheer poetry."
- William Donohue Ellis, The Cuyahoga (1966)


The four unloaders can separate and work independently, they travel on tracks that run parallel to the dock.  A cargo of iron could be unloaded in 5 to 10 hours, (depending on the size of the ship) previously this could take weeks.  They reigned supreme over the shores of Lake Erie for almost a hundred years until one-thousand foot self unloader ships made them virtually obsolete.   The 4 Huletts pictured above were recently dismantled and are awaiting relocation and hopefully restoration.   These are the last Huletts left in the world, besides 2 that are still in operation in Chicago.


Hulett Unloader page by Andrew MacGregor
Hulett page at the Great Lakes Industrial History Center
Hulett page at CSU Library
Committee to save Cleveland's Huletts