I've seen big boats before. I've been on touring ships, and seen oil tankers tied up off shore when we visit Florida and Texas, but those are SO far away, it's almost impossible to comprehend how big they really are.

That's one thing that makes the Great Lakes pretty incredible, because not only do they have their own fleets of massive shipping freighters, but you can get right up close to them as they navigate the locks, and narrow passageways between lakes. And when I tell you they're BIG... it's still an understatement.

107.7 WRKR-FM logo
Get our free mobile app

The early settlers of the Great Lakes region of this country couldn't even fathom what we have floating on the inland seas these days. Back then, it was pretty typical frigates and sailboats. Nothing overly massive in terms of what we have today, but back then, three masts and a crew of a a couple dozen was pretty big.

At best, though, those ships were no more than a few hundred feet long.

Today, we literally have ships and freighters more than 1,000 feet long steaming through the region. AND, some of these ships are as WIDE as early shipping boats were long.

And just to give you an idea as to HOW long these ships are, below is a video of the 1,013-foot Paul. R. Tregurtha going under the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth, Minnesota, and it takes just over two minutes for the ship to pass fully under the bridge.

Transporting goods across the Great Lakes has almost always existed. When European settlers arrived, the indigenous people were already boating through trade routes with neighboring tribes on the opposite sides of each lake.

But over time, of course, more people meant more good needed to be shipped. That also meant that the boats needed to get bigger. And once precious metals and ore was discovered and mined along the lakes, the ore freighters were born, and the monsters of the Great Lakes first appeared.

They also gave us INCREDIBLE sounds, like the infamous "Barker" horn on the James R. Barker.

So just how big are the BIGGEST ships on the Great Lakes? Let's take a look at some of the biggest, and most influential, which are all nearly 1/5th of a mile long.

The Five Largest Freighters On The Great Lakes

Gallery Credit: Wikipedia

S.S. Bannockburn: Ghost Ship of the Great Lakes

More From 107.7 WRKR-FM