The last ocean-bound ship to leave the Duluth-Superior harbor for the season departs this afternoon.
The Orsula is bound for Italy carrying 24,000 tons of durum wheat to be made into pasta and cous cous.
Ocean-going vessels known as "salties" must pass through the Welland Canal around Niagra Falls before it ices over, said Adele Yorde, spokeswoman for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. Mid-December is typical for the last such departure from Duluth.
"Salties that have come this far inland have to make sure that they get out prior to the closing date at the end of December," Yorde said.
Ships that just travel around the Great Lakes, called "lakers," will continue to load cargo in Duluth for another three weeks or so. That traffic continues until the Soo Locks close between Lakes Superior and Huron on Jan.15.