Monday, November 10, 2008

Day 6: Sault St. Marie Lock Tour

The U.S. Soo Locks. Note the ore carrier in the left lock. The doors to the right lock are open. View live web cam of the soo locks.

On our last day of vacation, we bolted up to Sault (pronounced Soo) St. Marie to take a Lock Tour. We had no idea a priori whether this was a good use of our time but it toured out to be a blast. If you don’t want to go through the Locks, you can also just drive to the viewing platform about a mile up the road from the tour dock. Large ore carriers travel through the locks several times a day.

The lock doors closing

Looking up at an ore carrier already lifted up to the level of Lake Superior

Looking at the interior wall of the lock

A Coast Guard patrol boat shared our journey. Note the manned 50 cal machine gun. The Coast Guard is playing a vital role in the war on terror. The ore carrier that was on the left has already left. You can see it in the distance.

Looking back on the locks after exiting. The viewing platform can be seen on the right.

Sault St. Marie is the third oldest establishment in the United States being founded in 1688. Sault means to jump so this was a place to jump the St. Mary’s river.

Bridge to Canada

The locks exist because Lake Superior is several hundred feet higher than Lake Huron. St. Mary’s River connects to the bodies of water. The tour takes you by some of the rapids that still exist. The first locks were actually built in 1797 were destroyed in the War of 1812. The US built its first lock in 1855. The locks are run by the Federal Government and are free to all passing ships.

Captain Mary, one of two female ship captains on the St. Mary's River.

A pavilion on the Canadian side of the river.

The boat tour takes you through the locks, up around to a steel mill, back through the locks, over to the rapids, and the finally along the Canadian side of the river. The captain of our boat is one of only two female captains on the river. She was quite interesting to talk to.

Pile of salt on the edge of the river

This ore carrier cruised by just as we were disembarking from the tour. I could sit and watch them all day. Is it any wonder I ended up in the Navy?

If you are ever in the area, the tour is worth doing. If this interests you, check out the Soo locks visitor's center web site for more information.

I hope you have enjoyed this virtual travel diary as much as we enjoyed living it. Many thanks to Nina at Black Coffee at Sunrise for all her travel tips.

1 comment:

Nina said...

Thanks for the shout-out! I know what you mean about watching the freighters. Last year, I wrote an essay about shipwreck history on the Great Lakes and happened to stay in a cabin on the St. Mary's River during the research phase. I became obsessed with watching the ships pass and thinking about what it would be like to go down in 37ยบ water with 25-30' waves. Shudder!