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!

Hit the Water in Michigan with These Extreme Sports

Summertime in Michigan means many things, but typically the most popular and memorable activities happen on the water. Between swimming, boating and fishing, there are countless ways to relax while taking in the Great Lakes state.

If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, however, check out these five thrilling sports that can serve as the highlight of the season.

1. Shipwreck Diving

Since Michigan is surrounded by large bodies of water, it is one of the best places to explore shipwrecks. Experience history firsthand by visiting one of the many sites where you can visit ships now resting on the lake floor. Even if you aren’t a diver, there are options for charter tours with glass bottoms perfect for making memories while staying dry.

Explore shipwrecks resting at the bottom of the Great Lakes

Suggested locations: Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (Alpena), Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve (Traverse City) and the Sanilac Shores Underwater Preserve (Port Sanilac).

 2. Kiteboarding

Want to try something new and exhilarating? Look no further than kiteboarding. Kiteboarding is a surface water sport combining aspects of wakeboarding, snowboarding, windsurfing and paragliding, among others, into one extreme sport. This sport is made possible through a large controllable power kite to be propelled across the water on a kiteboard similar to a wakeboard or a small surfboard.

Kiteboarding lets you harness the water and the air in one great sport

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @thawanderer88

Suggested locations: St. Clair Shores, Traverse City and East Tawas.

 3. Sea (Lake) Kayaking

A “silent sport,” kayaking speaks to our souls. Explore sea caves, channels and coves or travel pristine rivers, enjoying the serenity of a peaceful paddle or the thrill of riding heart-stopping rapids. Kayaking is also your best chance to experience the spectacular seasonal scenery and abundant wildlife of the water’s edge. Sea kayaking is more rigorous than regular kayaking, so expect a healthy arm workout when heading out onto one of the Great Lakes.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the U.P. is an ideal sea kayaking adventure

Photo Courtesy of Courtney Kotewa

Suggested locations: Port Austin and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Munising).

4. Parasailing

This high-flying experience is the thrill of a lifetime. Take in the sights of your surroundings as a giant parachute sends you soaring hundreds of feet above the water. Through parasailing, you’re able to see many unique Michigan destinations from an aerial perspective while being refreshed by the splashing freshwater below.

See the Mackinac Bridge from above through a parasailing adventure

Photo Courtesy of Mackinaw Parasailing

Suggested locations: Mackinaw City and Harbor Springs.

5. Great Lakes surfing

Surf’s up! Though it is believed that Great Lakes breakers were first surfed nearly a century ago, and possibly much earlier by native peoples, the first significant wave of participants arrived in the 1960s. The west coast surf craze was leaking into Middle America, and small surfing communities sprouted across the Great Lakes. Michigan was at the forefront and today, surfing on the ‘Third Coast’ is more popular than ever. The waves are typically small in the summer, which makes it the perfect time to learn to surf. The big waves and prime surfing time is during the fall, winter and spring.

St. Joseph offers great surfing for both beginners and veterans depending on the season

Photo Courtesy of Josh Nowicki

Suggested locations: New Buffalo and St. Joseph.

Which of these extreme water sports have you tried? Share with us by commenting below!

Plan a Pure Michigan Adventure with these August Events

August is fast approaching and summer will be soon ending! While the weather is still warm, it’s the perfect time to explore Pure Michigan. From the Milan Bluegrass Festival to an Annual Rubber Ducky Festival, there are a ton of exciting and unique events happening around the state.

Below is a roundup of August events to help you plan the upcoming month. Visit our events page to see everything going on all month long.

August 1-7

44th Annual Sault Summer Arts Festival??????????
August 2, Sault Sainte Marie

The 44th Annual Sault Summer Arts Festival, a juried exhibition and sale of fine arts and crafts, displayed by the artists themselves. The festival is held on the grounds of the Sault City Hall, facing the waterfront and the historic walkway.

The wide array of arts and crafts on display includes paintings, photographs and prints, ceramics, jewelry, carvings, games and furniture. Also included are many items for the yard, clothing, toys, stained and fused glass, wallets and purses, the U. P. in Smoke food wagon, maple syrup products, kettle corn, cinnamon roasted nuts and more.

Milan Bluegrass Festival
August 4-6, Milan

Michigan’s premier Bluegrass Festival is back for its 19th annual edition. Check out some of the new acts in addition to the stars everyone looks forward to seeing each year. This year promises to be one of the best.

Berries, Blues & BBQ Dinner on the Farm
August 5, Grand Junction

Relax under a pavilion while being served an appetizer, entrée and dessert, all made from in-season produce, local meats and cheeses. Enjoy a sampling of locally crafted wine and beer from McIntosh Winery and Round Barn Winery. Blues music will accompany your relaxed dinner and can end the night with a wagon ride through  fields just as the sun is setting. The Farm Dinner Menus will be crafted with in-season produce, meats from a local butcher shop and cheese from Evergreen Creamery in Fennville. The menu for the night will be subject to change based on what foods are available locally.

Taste of Michigan
August 5, Manistique

Your campground host will have an array of UP-made goodies to sample, join at the campground host site. Additional details can be obtained by calling the park at 906-341-2355.

Le Concours de Livingston

Le Concours de Livingston
August 6, Howell

Join for one of the preeminent events in Livingston County. Le Concours de Livingston showcases a stunning array of antique automobiles and motorcycles. You can also enjoy live music, delicious appetizers and beverages. In addition, there will be silent and live auctions featuring some one-of-a-kind items.

 August 8-14

Jazz on the Ave- Gregg KarukasJazz on the Ave
August 10, Dearborn

Come and enjoy the 8th annual Jazz on the Ave concert series in City Hall Park!

Gregg Karukas takes the stage from 7pm-9pm. Attendees are encouraged to pick a good spot, bring lawn chairs or blankets, and enjoy an evening of live music. Neighborhood restaurants will be selling food at booths located in the park, or concert goers can grab some carry-out and have a picnic! In addition to some talented musicians, there will be a balloon twister and face painter for those young and young at heart.

Leelanau State Park – Meteors & S’mores
August 10, Northport

Come visit Leelanau State Park during the Persied meteor shower. With your naked eye you will be able to watch potentially hundreds of meteors flash across the sky as they enter our atmosphere. Visitors should meet at the parks day use pavilion where free s’mores will be provided for everyone to enjoy during this star-gazing opportunity. They are best viewed while lying on your back, so it is advised visitors bring a lawn chair or blanket. Also, dress according to the weather and bring bug spray and your own beverages.

The Cowpie Music Festival
cowpieAugust 12-14, Caledonia

Every second weekend in August, Shagbark Farm, a working Angus cattle farm, becomes home to the Cowpie Music Festival. Join the party in the pasture for a unique cultural experience that includes 18 talented local bands, acres of pastoral camping, delicious food, craft beer, hot air balloon rides and more! Western Michigan’s rolling hills create a perfect natural amphitheater and provide great acoustics for fans dancing in the front row or just relaxing on blankets at the top of the hill. Music fans from all over the region come to party ’til the cows come home!

Legends of the Saginaw Sail
August 13, Bay City

Learn the fascinating history of the Saginaw River as the Appledore sails from Downtown Bay City to the Saginaw Bay. Once out on the open water, help the crew set the sails or relax and enjoy the view. A light lunch of a sub sandwich, chips, cookie and soda/water is served onboard.

Les Cheneaux Antique Wooden Boat ShowWooden Boat Show
August 13, Hessel

The Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Boat Show, a judged event, is held each year in Hessel, in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula. It has been a major attraction since it began in 1978. The show averages 150 entries and is one of the largest shows featuring antique and classic wooden and non-wooden boats. Restored boats dating back to the early 1900s are registered in this very unique show. The 2016 show will showcase Century Boats. A Festival of Arts is held alongside the boat show, where artists display and sell a variety of fine art & craft. Around 70 of the Midwest’s finest artists participate in this juried show.

August 15-21

Michigan’s State Fair in the Upper PeninsulaMichigan's State Fair in the Upper Peninsula
August 15-21, Escanaba

Come enjoy Michigan’s oldest State Fair in the Upper Peninsula. This week long fair has fun for the whole family with carnival rides, excellent food vendors, agricultural exhibits, livestock shows & auctions, grandstand musical entertainment featuring national acts, stock car races, midway entertainment and much more!

Downtown Tecumseh Classic Car & Bike Show & Music in the Park
August 18, Tecumseh

Get your motor running and head on down the highway to the 2016 Tecumseh Classic Car & Bike Show. Cars & bikes will be displayed in the Old National Bank parking lot located at 205 E. Chicago Blvd. and the adjacent downtown parking lot from 6:00 to 8:00 pm for all to enjoy. Special recognition awards will be given. Enjoy music with family and friends at Adams Park by City Hall.

Festival on the Bay
Festival on the BayAugust 19-20, Petoskey

Petoskey’s signature event – Festival on the Bay is a celebration of summer, life along the water and sunsets that can’t be beat.

Come for the music from awesome performers like The Cookies, the ever-popular Petoskey Steel Drum band, perennial favorite Jelly Roll Blues Band, Pete Kehoe, The Accidentals and more.

Vendors will line the promenade at Petoskey’s waterfront with food and frivolously fun items. Take to the water, take in and arts & crafts show, and maybe even get your color on during a fun run. Appearances by the famous Million Dollar Sunsets Petoskey is so well known for are also on the schedule.

29th Annual Rubber Ducky Festival
August 20, Bellaire

The Bellaire Chamber of Commerce is pleased to present the 29th Annual Rubber Ducky Festival. This cool event is a quarter-mile race when 2000 yellow ducks are dumped into the Intermediate River with the finish line at Riverside Marina.

Also join us on Saturday for kids’ activities with face painting, games, bounce houses, slides and water balls, and a matinee movie. Buy treasures at the Fine Arts & Crafts show with over 30 artists, explore downtown Bellaire sidewalk sales and much more. After the finish line, join for “Beatles Forever” at the Bellaire Public Library.

Thunder Over Michigan 2016Thunder Over Michigan 2016
August 20-21, Ypsilanti

Thunder Over Michigan is one of America’s leading airshows and is considered the best “warbird” show in America. Held every summer at Willow Run Airport, the show features world-class entertainment, unique static displays, and fun for the whole family.

August 22-28

Chelsea Community Fair
August 23-27, Chelsea

The Chelsea Community Fair is hosted at the Fairgrounds, which is located just south of downtown Chelsea. The annual fair is organized and run by the Board of Directors and the Daily Activity Fair Committees.

Michigan Paranormal ConventionMichigan paranormal convention
August 26-27, Sault Sainte Marie

The 7th Annual Michigan Paranormal Convention will bring the biggest names of the paranormal industry to Sault Ste. Marie, MI (Michigan’s Oldest City). On August 26th and 27th at Sault Ste Marie Michigan’s Kewadin Casinos Dream Makers Theater, the following experts and television stars will be on hand to cover such topics as paranormal investigating, psychic powers, demonology, UFOlogy and attendees will be able to meet some of their favorite television paranormal investigators.

Margarita Fest
August, 26-27, Lexington

The little town of Lexington is going tropical! Grab your silly hats, leis, blinking anything and head downtown for island music and a Caribbean of fun! Refreshments available all weekend.

Yassou! Greek Cultural Festival
August 26-28, Grand Rapids

Yassou means welcome and we welcome you to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church. We are thrilled to bring Grand Rapids an event celebrating the culture and traditions of the Greek Orthodox people. We look forward to sharing with you our music, dances, gifts and of course our food! We welcome you to visit and tour our beautiful church and ask about our Orthodox faith. Please spend some of your weekend with us and we are sure you will be glad you did. Opa!

German Park BiergartenGerman Park Biergarten
August, 27, Ann Arbor

German Park picnics attract thousands of visitors every year. After 75 years of serving traditional German-American hospitality to the public, we know how to make sure everyone has a good time.

August 29-31

Street Musique
Through August 31, Harbor Springs

Come and enjoy the various sounds and melodies of local area musicians while strolling through Main Street. Musicians will be performing from 7:00-9:00pm every Thursday until Labor Day weekend. With so many different styles of music offered block to block, every member of the family can relish the local rhythms while eating an ice cream with the kids or just enjoying a nice summer evening walk. Activities for the children will be available, ranging from magic shows and balloon animals to face painting and sidewalk chalk throughout town and at Tom’s Mom’s Cookies.

In the Paint: Art and the Spirit of the Games
In the PaintNow through September 6, Detroit

In the Paint: Art and the Spirit of the Games showcases works of art, presented for the modern Olympic and other international games, which were created by African American artists. Guided by the spirit of Olympism, the creations celebrate fair play, human dignity, equality and determination. By placing artists who created these exemplary works alongside the stories of the athletes who helped break down racial and other social barriers, In the Paint fulfills Pierre de Coubertin’s original mission for the Olympic Games to present the combined beauty of art and athletics.

 Did we miss your favorite August event? Name it below!