Traveling over the Mackinac Bridge,
Just north of the bridge, we passed Castle Rock
After driving through many miles of evergreen forests, we emerged into farm land … apparently hay being the major crop.
Once settled at our campground and having lunch,
we left for a boat tour
of the Soo Locks … a set of parallel locks which enable ships to travel between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes. They are located on the St. Mary’s River between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, between Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the Canadian province of Ontario. They bypass the rapids of the river, where the water falls 21 feet.
The locks pass an average of 10,000 ships per year, despite being closed during the winter from January through March, when ice shuts down shipping on the Great Lakes. The winter closure period is used to inspect and maintain the locks.
The locks raise and lower the vessels easily because the water will seek its own level as they open the gates. The locks move the water by gravity.
As a boat locks in from Lake Superior, the gates at each end of the locks are closed and a valve is open to let the Lake Superior water already in the lock flow out to the lower water level of the St Mary’s Canal and Lakes Huron and Michigan. When the water has dropped to the lower level, the lock gate at the south end is opened and the boat proceeds out of the locks into the St Mary’s River. The north gate remains closed, holding back the waters of Lake Superior.
Heading up the St. Mary’s River we traveled through a single, small lock currently operated on the Canadian side of the Soo. Opened in 1998, it was built within a damaged older lock, and is 253 feet long, 51 feet wide and 44 feet deep. This lock is used for recreational and tour boats; major shipping traffic uses the U.S. locks.
Nearing the lock, some of the wild life took flight.
Emerging from the Canadian locks, we passed the Essar Steel Algoma facility which currently has a capacity of 4 million tons per year. Primary steel making facilities include two blast furnaces, three coke batteries, two, 260 short ton basic oxygen furnaces, with two ladle metallurgy stations for refining and alloying. Algoma currently is the second largest steel producer in Canada. It is the largest employer in Sault Ste. Marie and currently has 2800 employees at the main plant. Algoma now produces hot and cold rolled steel.
After traveling up-river before coming about and heading back south … this time through the US MacArthur Lock, built in 1943. It is 800 feet long, 80 feet wide, and 29.5 feet deep.
in company during our transit were a small power boat and sailing yacht as the level dropped 21’ to the Lake Huron level of the river.
At the same time, the Canadian flagged “Thunder Bay” lake freighter passed us
before entering The Poe Lock, originally completed on August 3, 1895. The first ship to pass through was the passenger ship Majestic in September 1895. The original Poe Lock was engineered by Orlando Poe and, at 800 feet long and 100 feet wide, was the largest in the world when completed in 1896
Among some of the other sights along the St. Mary’s River were
Cloverland Electric Cooperative Hydroelectric Plant