Riding the Soo Locks . . .

For our first morning here in Sault Ste. Marie, Jan and I set outside and drank our coffee while we watched the big boats go by. This has got to be one of the nice views we’ve had in an RV park.

Soo Locks View 1


Even Mister got some sun with us.

Soo Locks View 2

Since it was such a nice day, we decided to take the Soo Locks Boat Tour this afternoon so about 2:15 we drove down the road about a block to the tour boat dock to make the 2:30 tour.

Soo Locks Tour 1


The first place we passed was our site at the Elk’s Lodge here. Shows you what a great view we have here.

Soo Locks Tour 17


And then right down the road we passed the Soo Locks Campground. It’s a pretty big park, but only a few sites are as good as ours.

Soo Locks Tour 3


This is a crane barge, capable of lifting 300 tons. It’s used to lift the enormous lock gates when repairs are necessary.

Soo Locks Tour 5


Here we are entering the lock that will raise us to the level of Lake Superior. Lake Huron is 21 feet below Superior, and before the locks were built, a 3 mile line of rapids covered the area. At that time they would haul the boats around the rapids on skids.

Soo Locks Tour 6

This lock holds 10 million gallons and it takes about 10 minutes to raise our tour boat to the upper level. There are no pumps involved in moving the water. To fill the lock they just open valves under the lock and let the water from the high side run in. To empty it, they just open valves at the other end and dump the water out the low side.

The only electricity used is to open and close the lock gates and valves, and uses only about 11 cents worth. For this reason passage through the locks is free, no matter if you are a row boat, or a big taconite (iron ore) freighter like the American Century below.

Soo Locks Tour 7

The American Century is 1000 feet long and 105 feet wide, and clears the locks with only a few feet on each side.

Soo Locks Tour 9


Once we were 21 feet higher, the gates opened and the safety boom moves out of the way. The boom prevents runaway boats from crashing into the lock gates and damaging or destroying them.

Soo Locks Tour 8


So now we were out into wide open Lake Superior.

Soo Locks Tour 10


Next up we passed a big steel mill that uses some the taconite ore brought in on the big freighters.

Soo Locks Tour 13

A large moving crane scoops up the ore from the piles

Soo Locks Tour 12

and then dumps it into the train car that takes it to the blast furnace.

Soo Locks Tour 11


Coming back, we came through a smaller set of locks on the Canadian side. The original large lock here was damaged about 50 years and set idle for a good while. It was decided that it was uneconomical to repair it, so they actually built a new, smaller lock inside the old one.

Only 238 feet long it is used for pleasure boats, tour boats, and other small craft.

Soo Locks Tour 14


Finally headed back to our dock, we passed the US Niagara, Admiral Perry’s relief flagship in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. Sunk on purpose in 1820, it was refloated in 1913 and suffering through several abortive restorations before finally ending up like this. During the summer it travels the Great Lakes as an ambassador for the state of Pennsylvania.

Soo Locks Tour 15


Jan even had a moose sighting, so she was happy.

Soo Locks Tour 16

By the time we got back to the dock and in our car, it was almost 5pm so we headed out to Applebee’s for dinner.

Not sure what we’ll do tomorrow. We might have some thunderstorms rolling in so we’ll have to wait and see.


Thought for the Day:

“‘Necessity’ is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.” – William Pitt, 1783



2 Responses

  1. Hi. Your current destination is on our bucket list, however, we’d have to cross that BIG bridge……hmmm!!! (that’s me, Phyllis, with the bridge crossing phobia like someone else we know). Anyway, Jan, have you been to the Moose Cafe in Asheville, NC? Ate ‘linner’ there today and couldn’t help but think of you loving moose as you do. Pretty dang good southern cooking too with much of the fruit and veggies coming from the Farmer’s Market next door. Can’t wait to check that out tomorrow. Enjoy your stay and keep the pics coming.

  2. Loved seeing the locks tour through your eyes. We really enjoyed that tour when we did it!

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