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  •  The Great Around-the-USA Adventure

    Michigan: Soo Locks, Sault Ste Marie


    27 Jun 08: We found out just a couple of days ago that today would be the one day a year when the public is invited to visit normally closed areas around the locks, such as the Administration Building and the area beyond the MacArthur and Poe Locks.
    This is a picture of the entire US Soo Locks complex. The four locks are on the left: the MacArthur, Poe, Davis, and Sabin Locks (from left to right). The Sabin Lock is closed, and the Corps of Engineers has plans to replace the Davis and Sabin Locks with a new, large lock similar to the Poe Lock, which is currently the only lock that can handle the largest Lakes ship, which are just over 1000' long and 105' wide. soo48
    soo49 How far things have progressed - here is a model of the first St Mary's River Lock, built in 1853.
     We saw several ships pass through the locks this morning. The first was the Buffalo, headed downriver. The locks raise or lower ships 21 feet, the difference in the water level between Lakes Huron and Superior.  soo01
     soo11  Later in the morning two ships were headed upriver to Lake Superior at the same time. On this special day, we were allowed to walk across the closed lock gates to the area between the two parallel locks, so that we were looking at a ship on each side of us. This was the American Victory, an ocean-going ship from Delaware. She was in the MacArthur Lock.
     At the same time the Lakes ship Algo Lake was locking through the Poe Lock.  soo16
     soo24  In only 15 minutes, the American Victory was lifted 21 feet and was heading out into Lake Superior.
    The Administration Building was built in the early 1900'a and houses the locks engineering offices.   soo35
     soo36  We were able to visit the office of the Area Engineer, on whose mantle I found this wonderful old barometer.
     After the big lakes ships, this tour boat seems rather small coming hrough the lock.  soo42
     soo54  In the afternoon we took one of the boat tours, which gave us a different view of the locks and Administration Building. Here we're approaching the MacArthur Lock.
     After passing through the lock, we went under the International Bridge and just beyond is the Wisconsin Central RR bridge, which has an interesting combination of a lift bridge and a bascule bridge spanning the American locks. soo66 
     soo76  Heading back downstream through the Canadian lock, we passed this wedding party. The Captain gave them a blast of the horn.
    Looking closely you can see what appears to be the smallest tugboat I've ever seen, tied up alongside its bigger brother.   soo84
     soo86  In the evening, the MI Army National Guard exercised one of its boats on the river. When done, they pulled it out at the boat launch beside the campground.

     They have a unique hydraulic system for hoisting the boat out of the water onto the truck.