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Ashland Ore Dock Receives New Life

Ashland Ore Dock 1

At one time, Ashland boasted five imposing timber-and-concrete iron ore docks that serviced the great ore carriers that steamed into the harbor. Some of the docks burned down. Some became defunct as services of multiple docks were consolidated. Others were ravaged by the region’s unrelenting winds and waters over time. Today, one of these five symbols of a bygone era, the Ashland Ore Dock (the former Soo Line Ore Dock), is receiving new life with renewed purpose.

The Soo Line Ore Dock was the largest concrete structure of its kind when it was built in 1916, soaring 80 feet above the horizon and spanning 66 feet at the waterline and 59 feet on top. In 1925, an addition doubled its length to nearly 2,000 feet in order to accommodate the iron ore mined in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and shipped from this dock—in total, accommodating a capacity of 25,000 tons of ore per day. The dock received its last ore shipment in 1965.

Despite the Ashland community’s efforts to save it, the unmaintained superstructure on the dock was completely dismantled in late 2013. However, its massive 2,000-foot-long, 66-foot-wide base still stands, inspiring its new use that Ashland visitors will love. It is being redeveloped as a public space that will peer out into the Chequamegon Bay. In a town that already offers glorious waterfront open spaces and recreational areas, the Ashland Ore Dock is envisioned to become the “crown jewel” of them all.

The dock, located at the base of Stuntz Avenue near Water Street, is currently under construction. About half of its length is open to the public. Visit it this season, and come back often to see how its new life unfolds.

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