Nine Things You Might Not Have Known About The Soo Locks

Engineer’s Weekend in Sault Ste. Marie is the last Friday in June. There’s something for everyone, historic open houses, spectacular vistas and the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the great Soo Locks

Check out these nine interesting facts about the Soo Locks to inspire your visit from Sault Ste. Marie Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

Photo courtesy of Sault Ste. Marie Convention and Visitor's Bureau

Photo courtesy of Sault Ste. Marie Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

A man-made marvel and the busiest lock system in the world, by cargo tonnage, yes the Soo Locks! On average, between seven and ten thousand ships come through the locks during the shipping season each year.  Built in 1855, these locks connect Lake Superior to Lake Huron and beyond.  We have repeat visitors every season; they call themselves Boat Nerds, that watch ships from all over the world use this free lock system.  Now here are some facts about the locking system and the St. Marys River.

$500.4 Billion value attributed to the iron ore shipped through the Soo Locks each year. An average of 80 million tons of cargo moves through them each year.

7,000 passages each year – Crews at the Soo Locks complete these lockages during the 42- week- long navigations season. They are open 24 hours a day.  Can you take your personal boat through the locks? Yes, as long as you have a motor and permission from the lockmaster.

2,342 miles- ships from all over the world visit this port as the locks are a part of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, which connects Duluth, Minnesota to the Atlantic!

22 Million gallons of water to lift a boat. The locks are powered by gravity itself!  Water moves in and out of the lock chambers by just opening and closing valves.

1000 foot boats- There are 13-1000 footers on the Great Lakes, and the largest boat that comes through the Soo Locks is the Paul R. Tregurtha, in at 1013 feet 6 inches which is larger than three football fields! The first vessels on the great lakes were 40 foot-long canoes.

Mikel B Classen

Photo courtesy of Mikel B Classen via Sault Ste. Marie CVB

9 hours between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, it takes a freighter about nine hours to pass through the St. Mary’s River system

21 foot drop- A thick layer of bedrock holds back the waters of Lake Superior where it joins the St. Marys River. This drop prevented boats from passing through. This reddish sandstone lines most of Lake Superior southern shores and is about 1000 feet-thick.   The Fairbanks Scale Company, which is still in business today, built the first permanent lock, State Lock.

3-4 cents per ton- From 1855 to 1881, this was the toll, but today it is free.

The propeller in Soo Locks Park is from a steamer named the Independence, which exploded just northwest of today’s locks.  One crewman is said to have survived a trip down the rapids on a hay bale from the ship.

Now that you know more about the Soo Locks, come and visit us during Engineer’s Weekend, when you can go into the locks and get up close and personal with this engineering marvel! Can’t make it that one day of the year? You can visit the Soo Locks Park anytime between late March and Mid-January to see the freighters go through the locks.

Engineer’s Day is always the last Friday in June, which falls on the 30th in 2017. See what Engineer’s Weekend is all about in the video below.

 

Have you been to the Soo Locks? Tell us about your experience!

Lake Advice from Our Fans: What to Do in the Upper Peninsula

Our Facebook fans have been giving us great advice on their favorite things to do all around Pure Michigan. Next on our list is the Upper Peninsula, home to iconic Pictured Rocks and Tahquamenon Falls. Here is a round-up of what to do and see in the U.P.

Find your lake this summer by visiting michigan.org/lakeeffect

One of my favorite places is High Rock Point–the very tip of the Keweenaw. The road to High Rock is “unimproved” which means it’s bad in the best ways possible: rocky, bumpy, rutted and muddy. It’s an adventure just to get there, and when you do, you’ll find that you are totally alone. The sights and sounds are Pure Michigan. – Marilynn Neher Bachorik

Try to catch a Northern Lights show over Lake Superior or just view the night sky on a clear night to see more stars than you’ve ever seen before. – Ray Baker

Photo Courtesy of Kevin Schneller

Northern Lights, Photo Courtesy of Kevin Schneller

Being able to catch the Northern Lights on top of Brockway Mountain right after watching the fireworks at Copper Harbor. – GR2 Photography

Wakefield is a small town (pop.~ 1850) where M28 meets US2. Wakefield is known for its friendly people and their hospitality is without question beyond extraordinary. Please visit Wakefield and see for yourself why you will be forever drawn back. – Joseph Yon

I love the beauty, the nature, the peacefulness I feel in the woods. It’s impossible to pick a favorite spot. I love the rocky beach at Whitefish Point. Next month I plan to see all the falls in the Munising area. – Shelley Lewis

Whitefish Point, Photo Courtesy of Karrie Altland

Whitefish Point, Photo Courtesy of Karrie Altland

Dog sledding at Nature’s Kennel! – Theresa Krol

The agate beaches, Curly Lewis Drive, the lighthouses, Grand Island’s Trout Bay, 12 Mile Beach, Salt Point Beach… Lots more to love! – Holly Kulhawick

Two-Hearted river. – Kelli Logan

Boating along Pictured Rocks on a hot sunny day! Stunning! – Dianne Tribfelner

The shores of Marquette. – Steph Larson Wentela

Lake in the Clouds where only one word describes it – spectacular! – Leslie Dittman Coon

Miners Falls, Photo Courtesy of Tammi Capron

Miners Falls, Photo Courtesy of Tammi Capron

The beautiful waterfalls of the U.P. (Miners Falls in Munising) – Jesse Barcega

I love to watch the boats come through the Soo Locks. – Andrea Selewski

My personal favorite is “the cove” at Presque Isle in Marquette. – Hills Anne

Anything missing? Let us know what you love to do in the Upper Peninsula by commenting below!

Eight Cool Things to Do in the Eastern U.P. During the Summer

With hidden lakes, coursing waterfalls, fresh local fare and more, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a traveler’s ultimate escape. Featured blogger Jesse Land from Things to Do in the U.P. tells us about eight cool things he has done in the Eastern U.P. to inspire your visit. 

Many people forget just how big the U.P. is. For example, even though I live in Iron Mountain (roughly in the middle of the Upper Peninsula), it still takes me over four hours to get to DeTour, in the far eastern U.P. If I lived in Ironwood, it’d be more like a six hour drive!

Iron Mountain_Joseph Parrott

Iron Mountain, Photo Courtesy of Joseph Parrott

And so it is that the far ends of the U.P. often don’t get as much attention as they should. Well, I decided to at least scratch the surface in the eastern U.P. last summer and am so glad I did. Let me just point out that this is not a “best of” list by any means. One could easily spend a few weeks over in the Eastern U.P. and not take it all in. These are just a few highlights from last summer and hopefully by the time you’re done reading this you’ll want to venture over there to check it out for yourself!

1. Kayak through the Les Cheneaux Islands

One of the highlights from last summer was definitely kayaking through a few of the Les Cheneaux Islands with Woods and Water Ecotours. Our guide Carla was a very experienced kayaker and had moved from out west to the Les Cheaneaux area to attend their famed wooden boat building school. Carla took my wife and I and two other travelers out around a few of the thirty six islands, over some really cool rock formations and even over a shallow water shipwreck.

The short paddle was just long enough for me to realize I need to plan a whole week or more in the Les Cheneaux area with my kayak. What an amazing place.

2. Have lunch at Brown’s Fish House in Paradise

Brown's Fish House. Photo courtesy of Jesse Land - Things to Do in the U.P.

Brown’s Fish House. Photo courtesy of Jesse Land – Things to Do in the U.P.

Ah, Brown’s. It almost seems to good to be true. For some reason I’m afraid that one of these times I’m going to go into Brown’s Fisheries Fish House for lunch and not have an amazing meal. Luckily, that’s never happened and I doubt it ever will. Last summer I had their lake trout basket for the first time and I think I might have found a new favorite. If you like fresh fish, put Brown’s at the top of your U.P. itinerary. (32638 West M28 Paradise, MI)

3. Visit Tahquamenon Falls (and have dinner at the brewery)

Photo Courtesy of Amy Brown

Photo Courtesy of Amy Brown

What’s a trip to to the eastern U.P. without a stop at Tahquamenon Falls? I had the chance to not only see the falls, but have a great chat with Lark Ludlow, the co-owner and brewer at the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery.

Lark’s grandfather gifted much of the land that is now Tahquamenon Falls State Park to the state of Michigan so she told my friends and I about the history of the area, what used to be where the restaurant/brewery is now and how the brewery came to be. And we capped off the evening with an excellent dinner. Next time you visit Tahquamenon Falls, make sure to stop in the brewery! Even if you’re not a fan of craft beer, they’ve got great food.

4. Discover Malloney’s Irish Pub in Sault Sainte Marie

We’d planned to visit the locally famous Antlers for dinner in Sault Sainte Marie, but ended up walking into to Maloney’s Alley Irish Pub just to check it out and were very pleasantly surprised, so we stayed for dinner. Prior to that visit I hadn’t heard of Malloney’s, but they ended up having great food and a terrific Michigan craft beer selection! I’ll definitely be back. (227 W Portage Ave. Sault Sainte Marie, MI)

5. Have a picnic lunch at the Hessel marina

Hesel Marina - Photo courtesy of Jesse Land - Things to Do in the U.P.

Hessel Marina – Photo courtesy of Jesse Land – Things to Do in the U.P.

Sometimes it’s the simple things you remember the most. My wife and I packed a cooler for a picnic lunch on our first visit to the eastern U.P. last summer but didn’t have any specific location in mind. Well, we ended up finding the perfect spot as soon as we pulled into Hessel, in the form of the Hessel marina.

We had lunch on a picnic table while gazing at antique wooden boats, water, a beach and the many islands as a few “islanders” came and went in their boats. Whether you have lunch here or not, it’s a great spot for a photo op.

6. Tour Drummond Island on ATV

Another highlight was touring Drummond Island on ATV with Beaver’s ATV Rentals. We were told that Bill Beaver knows Drummond Island as good as anyone, and he sure seemed to. Bill led my wife and I on an excellent several hour tour of various Drummond Island highlights via the island’s designated ORV trails. And once again, it was enough to make us realize we need to block off at least a few days to explore Drummond Island further. We can’t wait to get back.

7. Visit Soo Brewing

While in the Soo we made it a point to stop into Soo Brewing and really enjoyed the place. It’s an open, unassuming space with plenty of board games on hand and lots of couch and table space where friends can relax for hours. And since it’s located right downtown, it’s easy to walk from the brewery to all the other bars, restaurants and things to do in the area.

8.  Visit the Crisp Point Lighthouse

Photo courtesy of Jesse Land - Things to Do in the U.P.

Photo courtesy of Jesse Land – Things to Do in the U.P.

The Crisp Point Lighthouse is one of those places I’ve always wanted to go but for one reason or another I just wasn’t able to make it work. Well, last summer I was determined to get out there and am definitely glad I did. It’s probably the U.P.’s most remote lighthouse (at least that I’ve been to) but wow, what a place. It has a wonderful history, is beautifully restored and the view from the top is amazing!

So, those are just eight of the cool things I did in the Eastern U.P. last summer. I can’t wait to get back there so I can add to this list for next year!

What are some of your favorite things to do in the Eastern U.P.?

JesseLand21111Jesse Land owns Land Family Media and publishes the Upper Peninsula Travel blog Things to do in the U.P.