Friday, July 22, 2011

Thursday July 21, 2011-Mackinaw Mill Creek campground

Today we went to Sault Ste. Marie to take a ride on the Soo Lock boats. The Soo locks are in the St. Marys river and accommodate vessels of up to 1200' in length. It is interesting to watch the ships rise or drop 21' between the two levels of the river.

This was not the boat that we were on but is one that is used for serving meals to the guests. Our boat had benches or chairs for everyone to sit on, while this one had tables.

This is dock #1 where we met our boat. By boarding at dock 1, we had our choice of seats, and it was good that we did this because a large group of Amish people also boarded and by the time we picked up some more passengers at dock #2, the boat was pretty full. I don't know what group or sect of Amish these folks were, but they seemed to be much more "progressive" than the ones that we've been around before. One of the adults and a couple of the teens used cell phones. I know they don't use electricity or telephones in their homes and was surprised to see them using cell phones. There were several of them that are disabled and it was nice to see how many of them helped those with disabilities. Their clothing used buttons while still not using modern fasteners and was made of a polyester material. Maybe its their dress-up clothes to visit outside the home area. I did talk to one of the men and learned that they took a bus from Fort Wayne IN to make this visit. He was amazed at the size of the ships (see below) and it was interesting to hear his comments to his wife.

This ship had just come through the locks and was meeting our boat. Most of these ships carry iron ore that is smelted and used in the automotive industry.

To the right of this picture is another huge, 1000' ore-carriers that is entering one of the locks. You can see the bow of our boat as we near the lock that we will ride through. I did a series of photos of the locks opening that you can view HERE

This is an old sailing vessel that is on display here. There isn't much information on this old ship and it is being worked on by the crew in the small boat under the bow.

The US Coast Guard is on duty in the river in their small patrol boat. We passed by the Coast Guard station and saw a cutter and some of the buoys that are waiting to go back out into the water to protect boaters and ship traffic.

This is a view down the lock with the viewing platforms. These are open to the public and we will try to go there when we return to Sault Ste Marie in the future. We were told that the water is transferred to either raise or lower the levels by underground tunnels that move one million (gasp) gallons per minute.

Here you see the unloading of iron ore from one of the ships. I read on one of the sites that these ships are self-unloading onto the conveyor belt.

The black raised platform is a railroad track that is lifted to allow ships to pass below it. This is one of only two in the United States that operates in this manner.

This is another unusual railroad crossing of the river. This one swivels to cross the river and is the only one of its kind.

We were actually in Canadian waters in the river but didn't have to show our passports when we got off the boat, unlike the hand-pulled ferry border crossing into Mexico that we had to identify ourselves even though we never left the boat on the Mexican side. This bushplane museum is in Canada, so we were this close to being in Canada. We plan to return soon, so perhaps we'll be able to visit this museum then.

This was a very interesting day and we look forward to seeing more of this area soon.

So long.

1 comment:

Ted and Donna said...

The Soo Locks are a great trip. Now you can understand why we enjoyed our riverboat cruise in Europe that went through 66 locks, two being 82 feet to cross the European Continental Divide. I'm so pleased you are enjoying the UP!