ASME-Landmark:Hulett Ore Unloaders


The Hulett ore unloaders were highly efficient materials handling machines unique to the Great Lakes, invented by Clevelander George H. Hulett (1846-1923). The first, steam-powered, with a 10-ton-capacity grab bucket, went into service at Conneaut, Ohio, in 1899. It could unload an ore boat at the rate of 275 tons an hour.

Like later Huletts, the landmark machines, built in 1912, were electrically powered. The various motions of the 17-ton bucket were controlled by an operator riding in a small cab in the vertical leg just above the bucket. Each machine could unload 1,000 tons an hour and in their time set many ore unloading records, making the city of Cleveland the largest iron ore terminus in the world.

The Hulett's clear superiority over existing mechanical unloaders revolutionized ore handling and led to its rapid adoption throughout the lower-lake ore ports. Between 1898 and 1960, more than 75 were built by Cleveland's Wellman-Seaver-Morgan Co. and its predecessor and successor firms, with bucket capacities of 10 tons, 15 tons, 17 tons, 20 tons, and 22 tons. Nearly 45 Huletts operated at docks and on the shores of Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River, revolutionizing vessel design and ore shipping on the Great Lakes.

With the advent of self-unloading ore boats, most have been dismantled. The landmark Huletts operated until December of 1992, were dismantled in 2000, and as of 2016 remain, in pieces, on Whiskey Island. See ASME website for more information