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Returnin' the Irvin

Floating museum comes home to Duluth

By: Dan Kraker | October 18, 2019

A freighter ship

After 13 months away, the William A. Irvin is back home in Duluth. 

Crews towed the 610-foot-long retired freighter to its spot in the Minnesota Slip from Fraser Shipyards in Superior, Wis., Wednesday evening, and then delicately steered the ship through a pedestrian lift bridge that crosses the entrance to the slip — with only 7 inches to spare on either side. 

It was a repeat of the operation last September — but in reverse. Last year, the ship was towed out of its longtime home in the slip, to allow for the cleanup of contaminated sediment underneath, part of an ongoing effort to remove old industrial pollution in the St. Louis River and Duluth-Superior harbor. 

The Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, or DECC, which owns the ship — which doubles as a museum — and guides about 60,000 visitors through it every year, took advantage of the move to have the Irvin’s corroded hull repaired and repainted. 

The side of a freighter ship.

That work was completed earlier this week, and a subsequent calm, mild forecast allowed crews to orchestrate the freighter’s return to Duluth. 

There were several elements that made it challenging, said Chase Dewhirst, a marine civil engineer who consulted with the DECC on the move.

Read more about the Irvin's return HERE!