Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sault ST Marie and Soo Locks

From ST Ignace we drove to Salt Ste. Marie, a trip of about 50 miles. We wanted to visit the famous Soo Locks. The first locks were built about 150 ago. The locks are on the ST Mary's river, between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. There is a 21 foot drop between the two lakes. About 10,000 ships pass through the locks each year, despite being closed in the winter between January and March. There are no fees charged for any vessel. The locks can handle super freighters which are a 1000 feet long and 105 feet wide.  There is a great observation platform to view the ship locking through. There is a schedule that lets visitor's know what time the ships will be arriving.
      We signed up for a boat tour through the locks. 
Entering the lock.

Almost in, see how low we are.

We are in and the water is beginning to fill. Water enters through gravity through 25 valves in the bottom of the lock, not that little bit of water coming through the closed lock you see in the picture.

.Full and opening, see photo above to compare how much higher we are, the gates that are now opening.

The lock fully open with the ST Mary's canal ahead.

The bridge joining the twin cities of Sault Ste Marine in the US and Canada

Arriving from Lake Superior into the Canadian locks for the drop back down 21 feet.

A really neat building along the locks in Canada

The lock is full. See the difference in the water levels.

The lock at the lower level


Leaving the Canadian lock

This is the tour boat entering the lock.

The ST Mary's rapids. A large amount of water still flows through the rapids. I believe we were told only 4% of the water goes through the locks.

This freighter is 750 feet long and going into Lake Superior. The viewing platform puts you right in the action.
Entering the lock with the lower gate open.

Not much room to spare
Almost in.

Starting to rise, note the photo above, the hull is even with the wall, now it is above

Upper gate open and the freighter leaving.

This freighter coming into the lock is 1000 feet long. Only one lock can handle a ship this size. There are plans to add another super size lock and waiting for Congress's to appropriate the money. I believe we were told this process started 10 years ago.

Getting closer

 Finally in

Note how much higher the ship is above the dock
 Leaving the lock
 I know its a lot of photo's, but it was just amazing to us to see this amazing engineering project working.

Next Mackinac Island. Thanks for following along

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