This Operator Station, "Bucket", and about 1/3 of the "Arm" were saved from one of the Ashtabula Huletts. Acquiring this was the idea of Joseph L. Rose. It was donated by the A & B Dock Company to the Maritime Museum. Only "18 foot" of the original Hulett unit could be moved to this location and saved! All of the Huletts in Ashtabula were scrapped in the early 1980's. Remember this giant is only "18 feet" of the original machine!!
In 1898, George H. Hulett patented his first machine for unloading iron ore from lake freighters. The Hulett is one of the largest and most cumbersome machines ever built. 88 feet hight, 36 feet wide at the base and weighing 950 tons, it was capable of digging 17 tons of ore in fifty seconds. The "main girder" of the machine is 134 feet long and extends over five railroad loading tracks. The "walking beam" is 94 feet long and is connected to the "digging leg". The digging leg, to which a "bucket" is attached, is 58 feet long. All those familiar with the intricate operation of these machines agreed that it required a great deal of time to train a man to the point where he became an efficient Hulett operator. The "Hulett operator" sat in a small booth just above the bucket inside the digging leg. He controlled the digging device going in and out of the vessel's hold. Once out of the hold
he would "trolley" the entire Hulett back from the vessel. He would do this by moving back along the main girder so he could dump his loaded bucket into a "hopper". The "larry car operator" under the main beam would weigh, then dump the ore from the hopper into the waiting rail cars below.
The first Hulett was constructed in Conneaut, Ohio in 1898. Andrew Carnegie, the leader in the American steel industry, had been convinced to try this new idea, but he made sure it would not cost him anything. "If the machine works, I'll buy it; if not, the manufacturer will have to dispose of it!" It was ready to go by the start of 1899. The first Hulett was steam powered and it did away with many of the expensive cables needed by other unloading machines. Later they were operated by electric DC power. In 1908, Ashtabula had eight Huletts. The Hulett era ended in the early 1980's when Lake Boats began using self-unloaders.