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Harbor View

Harbor View will provide you and your family with a birds-eye view of the huge U.S. and Canadian freighters loading limestone at the Port of Calcite. About 500 boatloads are shipped from this busy port each year, with each ship carrying 12,000-30,000 tons of stone. It provides an opportunity to watch the giant freighters loading that is unparalleled in the Lower Peninsula... and it’s FREE!

harborviewHundreds of millions of tons of limestone have been shipped from the Port of Calcite since it opened in 1912, making it the busiest bulk cargo port in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. No wonder—the port serves Michigan Limestone’s Calcite Plant, the world’s largest limestone quarry. Owned for many years by U.S. Steel, which used limestone in their steelmaking operations, Michigan Limestone is now a division of Oglebay Norton, Inc.

Two ships can load at once at the Calcite slip.

Here the John G. Munson is on the left, while the Buffalo is on the right. The Munson is a classic style freighter, with its pilothouse at the bow and its engine room at the stern. The Buffalo reflects a new design that emerged in the 1970s. Her engine room, pilothouse, and all accommodations are at her stern.

harborviewLimestone* is carried to the ships by an system of conveyor belts. Here, one of the two ship loaders at the port is dumping stone into the cargo hold of the Cason J. Callaway at the “south dock.” A second ship can be seen loading in the “north dock” slip next to the Callaway. The stone loaded at Calcite ranges from sand-sized “fines” to 5 ½-inch-diameter “sugar stone.”

harborviewIn this view of the ship loader at the north dock, the operator’s control booth can be seen directly above the loading shuttle. The operator controls the movement of the shuttle, which can be moved in and out to evenly distribute cargo in the ship’s hold.

The operator also controls the amount of tonnage deposited in each hatch, based on instructions given to him by the ship’s deck officers.

The white skeleton-like structure above the loader in the top left of the photo is the ship’s unloading boom.

All of the ships that load at Calcite today are self-unloaders that can unload without the assistance of any shoreside equipment.



harborviewThis photo shows the self-unloader Calcite II unloading limestone at a dock on the Rouge River at Detroit. The ship’s 250-foot-long unloading boom has been swung over the side to deposit the stone in a pile on the dock. A conveyor system carries the stone from the ship’s cargo hold to the conveyor belt enclosed within the unloading boom. The Calcite II was named in honor of the Calcite Plant at Rogers City.


Harbor View Port of Calcite is at 45.42n 83.76w. You can find driving directions here.


Harbor View is open from 8:00a.m. until dark during the shipping season, which runs from late March until around Christmas.

Boat Information

Call (989) 734-2117 to find our what boats are scheduled to load at Calcite.

* Limestone is calcium carbonate that formed 100-500 years ago from compressed layers of plant and animal life that were deposited when the region was covered with a shallow saltwater sea. It is one of the most widely used of all minerals and a key ingredient in making steel, cement, concrete, and numerous agricultural and pharmaceutical products.