Sault Ste. Marie, which means the rapids on the Saint Mary river, is situated on the American Canadian border between Lakes Superior and Huron.
This is the site of the Soo Locks that allow ships to transition the 21 foot height difference between Lake Superior and the lower Lake Huron. Before the locks were constructed it was necessary to portage the ships around the rapids. This was done by taking the ships out of the water on cradles and then rolling them around the rapids on logs. The path taken was what is today, Portage Ave., and for the largest ships this process could take up to seven weeks.
It works like magic. First you see the stacks of the freighter. Slowly the name of the vessel emerges. And then - voila - the whole ship appears. It has been raised 21 feet to continue on its Lake Superior journey.
These were taken from the tour boat. We used the Canadian Lock on our upbound journey. This sequence shows the open lock doors so we can enter. Then the doors closing behind us. The water is then allowed to flow in and raise our boat the 21 feet to the upper level. We had to wait in the lock for a loaded ore train to cross. After it was past, the lock doors were opened, the bridge swings out of our way, and we continue our tour. The orange structure to the right on the last picture is a way to handle an emergency if anything happens to the existing lock doors. There is a way to drop big slabs of metal into the canal relatively quickly to prevent a deluge of water going down river.
This was a beautiful drive out to Whitefish Point which juts out into Lake Superior. This lighthouse is guarding
the entrance to the Soo Locks. In this museum is the bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald which was lost in a storm in
1975 with the loss of all hands. It is the last ship to go down in Lake Superior. It has not been salvaged and the
bodies are still entombed in the ship. As a memorial the families decided to bring up the bell and create a
memorial. It was replaced with a replica that had the names of the crew members etched on it.
There are two sets of falls here in this park. Both are very colored with tannin. This is the upper falls which are about
50 feet high. This is the second highest falls east of the Mississippi River. Obviously the highest is Niagara Falls which
we will also visit on this trip. They don't compare with some of the falls in the west. This part of the country is
much older geologically and therefore has been much more eroded.