I mentioned in my post about our time in Mackinaw City that I became somewhat obsessed with ships sailing around the Great Lakes. Well the best place to see ships up close and personal is at Soo Locks in Sault Ste Marie.
Sault Ste Marie was about an hour away from our campground so I wanted to make sure we went at the most opportune time to see plenty of ships. This was no easy task! I’m thankful to my friend Doug for helping me figure out based on the Marine Traffic app when we should go. Much to my teenage kids’ chagrin, the best time happened to be early in the morning and like many teenagers, they don’t do mornings. 😉
There is a very nice viewing platform for visitors to use to watch the ships coming and going from the locks. And it’s free!
The purpose of the locks is for ships going between Lake Huron and Lake Superior. Since the water level at Superior is higher than Huron, the ships have to come into the locks where they raise or lower the water level for the ship to continue on its way. In the picture below the ship is very low in the water, needing to be raised up to move into Lake Superior. There is also a second ship in the next lock over (Mesabi Miner), but it’s hard to see since it is low in the water.
Check out the before and after of the ship rising with the water level. You can also see the Mesabi Miner pulling out heading into Lake Superior.
I was keeping track of the Edwin Gott, a 1000′ ship on its way to Soo Locks. After we watched these ships pull out we quickly drove down the road to watch Edwin Gott pass by at Rotary Island Park. Unfortunately we weren’t quick enough to get to the park, but instead were able to pull over into a parking lot where I was able to see him pass by.
Next we headed back to the viewing platform to wait for Edwin Gott to pull in. Meanwhile we got to see what the locks look like empty.
We also watched a few Soo Locks Boat Tours where people can learn all about how the locks work.
I really enjoyed this! I suppose not everyone is interested in ships sailing around the Great Lakes, but I find them very fascinating.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 1000 foot ship before. That’s huge! I too would have enjoyed stopping to watch that.
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