We started the day with a 52 mile drive from St. Ignace to Sault Ste Marie, the oldest city in Michigan.  We camped at the Soo Locks Campground, a beautiful location along the St. Marys River right across from Sault Ste Marie, Canada.  Our initial plans before COVID were  to cross the border into Canada and travel above Lake Superior.  However, since Canada is still not allowing US citizens to cross the border for pleasure, our plans have now changed. We will now be driving across the Upper Peninsula to get to Minnesota to continue with the rest of our itinerary and reservations.  

Dec21 J soolocks

Here is where we are!

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The campground was  only 1.6 miles from the Soo Locks

Prior to the Soo Locks’ construction, the waters between Lake Superior and Lake Huron were impassable by boat due to the rough 21 foot drop at the St Marys River rapids. Indians and early settlers had to portage their boats and supplies on land for one mile to go around the falls. This painting by John Bower, Jr hanging in the Tower of History, shows tracks through the town that were used to pull the goods and boats through town and back to the St. Marys River.

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Tower of History

Construction on the Tower of History began in 1968 as the “Shrine of the Missionaries.” It was built to tell the tales of early missionaries in the Sault Ste. Marie area. The Sault Historic Sites donated it to city in 1980, and it now also  includes Native American history.. There are 292 stairs (which we did not walk) and an elevator to the top where we had a panoramic view of the city, its bridges and the Soo Locks.  Actually, the Tower’s literature boasts views of 1200 square miles from the top.IMG 2489

Soo Locks

The Soo Locks is the busiest port in the world by tonnage passing through its locks. On average, between seven and ten thousand ships come through the locks during the shipping season each year.(the locks are closed from January to March)  Originally built in 1855, these locks connect Lake Superior to Lake Huron and beyond.  Freighters over 1,000 feet in length can travel along the St. Marys River all the way from Duluth, Minnesota outward into the Atlantic Ocean and beyond.  There are five parallel locks, four on the American side and one of the Canadian side.  Two of the four American locks are no longer in usevand are slated to be removed to make room for a larger lock at that location.

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We took an interesting trip with Soo Locks Boat Tour ($32 for adults; $11 for kids). We were able to see all five locks as we went through the MacArthur American lock as we sailed towards Lake Superior and came through the Canadian Lock on our return trip.
We cruised underneath the International Highway Bridge that connects the USA to Canada  and under the International Railway Bridge. We cruised right along side giant lake freighters & ocean vessels and learned the dimensions and tonnage of the passing ships.

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Ben with the captain

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We are waiting for our turn to enter the MacArthur Lock on the left.  The Poe Lock on the right is the lock used for the largest vessels.The vessels pictured below were in the locks and are now coming out.

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It’s finally our turn!  We entered the lock with a tugboat and pleasure boat.  The water level had to be raised 21 feet to reach the level of Lake Superior. This takes 10 million gallons of water  on the smaller MacArthur Lock that we were in.

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Here comes one of our lock companions.

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 We are now level with Lake Superior and the gates are starting to open.

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Coming back through the Canadian Locks we dropped 21 feet and were ready to enter the St. Marys River once again.

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International Railroad Bridge

Here is a picture of some of the International Bridge with the International Railroad Bridge in the background. Both bridges are much wider than this picture, but the railroad bridge is especially interesting. It is one of only a few bridges in America to have more than one type of movable span. Not that I know what each of these types are, but here are the names of the various types of spans contained in this bridge:  plate girder overpass span, vertical lift span, bascule span, camelback truss spans, swing span and plate girder span.  Very interesting to see!  The overall length of all these spans is 5,580 feet.

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Beautiful sunset from campground

Trip Statistics

  • We've driven 3,798 miles - 2,623 in Big Hat and 1,175 in the car
  • We’ve spent $1,268.36 on gas or an average of $22.31 per day
  • Soo Locks Campground was $32 per night.  We’ve spent $1,268.36 on campgrounds, or an average of $37.30 per night
  • We only walked 2.2 miles today and bicycled 4.5 miles