JACKSON ST. PIER WITH VIEWS OF THE COAL DOCKS
From the seawall on Jackson St. Pier the coal docks are clearly visible to the left (NW) of the pier. Sandusky has one of the finest and best protected harbors on the Great Lakes.
Jackson Street Pier, ca. 1900. Image courtesy of Sandusky Library Archives Research Center
Sandusky has one of the finest and best protected harbors on the Great Lakes. For more than a century—starting in the 1890s—the transfer of coal from railroad cars to lake vessels has been taking place in Sandusky, specifically on the city’s west end. Coal mined in West Virginia and southern Ohio is brought by rail to Sandusky, where it is transferred to ships which carry it to other Great Lakes ports and to other locations around the world.
The process of loading coal started with a group of men and a number of wheelbarrows, a totally manual process, then moved to a steam-operated crane, and finally to huge cranes that can lift and dump a rail car with the touch of a button.
There are three docks built at various times. the largest and newest is dock No. 3 – it is one mile long! Railroad cars, 100 cars each delivery, can be unloaded in just hours.
Over the years, the ships that haul coal from Sandusky have changed, from small wood boats to massive 800-foot long lake freighters. See how they deal with coal loading today HERE.