Friday, October 03, 2014

Hanging Around the Soo Locks!

Have you ever watched huge ships pass through narrow locks to get from one body of water to another?

It’s a fascinating feat of engineering!

Last Friday evening ((has it been a week already?!)) Lynn asked if I wanted to go down to the Soo Locks and see if any ships were passing through.

Of course! I am game for anything, especially if it is something I'd never seen before!

The evening was gorgeous – clear blue skies, sunny and warm, and Lynn and I mounted the viewing platform with quite a smattering of other lookers-on to watch.

From Wiki:
The Soo Locks (sometimes spelled Sault Locks, but pronounced "soo") are a set of parallel locks which enable ships to travel between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes.
They are located on the St. Marys River between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, between the Upper Peninsula of the US state of Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario.
They bypass the rapids of the river, where the water falls 21 feet.

This ship was westward bound in the far lock when we arrived.

Note how far above ground level this ship rests!

The locks pass an average of 10,000 ships per year, despite being closed during the winter from January through March, when ice shuts down shipping on the Great Lakes.
The winter closure period is used to inspect and maintain the locks.


As the green ship is leaving, another ship is entering closer to us!

Again..notice how high above the ground the ship is --


Waving hello to Canada on the other side of the river!


The crew climbs down ladders and grab ropes to ground level, walking along side.


There are gates at the other end….

Now this is the whole “optical illusion thing”  Does the water on THIS side of the gate look like we are at the same level as the water on the other side of that gate?  It looks like one even river, doesn’t it?


At this point the water starts leaving the lock, lowering the ship down and down and down and down…..same sidewalk, boat now even with sidewalk!


Until the ship is WAY BELOW the level of the sidewalk where those workers were standing!


NOW the gates open!

This ship was 21 feet above the waterline of the next body of water where it needed to go……just amazing!

It was a beautiful evening and such a great vantage point to watch something that I don’t get to see every day.  I love stuff like this.  There are such amazing things to see in this world when we get our hands and eyes out of our quilting and take a good look around, don’t you agree?

I love learning about things that I never knew existed before, or didn’t know how they worked before.

And making new friends in the process!

Sadie and I have already had a 2.5 mile hike this morning ---big breakfast is on the agenda as soon as I get this sent off.  There is nothing like fresh mountain air to bring on the hungries!

Today may bring rain late this afternoon, but while the weather is good, you’ll find me out on the front porch treadling away ---

Have a great Friday, everyone!

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  1. Very interesting! I'd love to see this in person. Enjoy yourself today!!

  2. Hi Bonnie

    Yes, the locks are amazing! Cool geeky stuff to be sure. Glad you got to see some ships going through while at the Soo.
    Have a great day on your mountain treadling away.

  3. My all time favorite cruise is going through the Panama Canal. We've done it twice so far but I'd do it again in a heartbeat! It is fascinating to me! Built 100 years ago without all the engineering knowledge of today, but still used today! Amazing! I'm glad you got to see these locks in action. Enjoy your time on the porch, treading away!

  4. The locks are so amazing to see but even better if you take the Soo Locks Boat Tour! My family did some years ago and we all enjoyed it. Next time you come to my great state of Michigan,take the tour if you can.

  5. Going to the Soo and getting groceries and seeing the Soo locks was a childhood favorite of mine...Loved camping and seeing all the history and Old Logging camps that my dads dad showed him...... hehe The UP woods is full of history...

  6. The engineering of the locks is amazing. I live in NW Alabama near the beautiful Tennessee River. Before 9/11 we enjoyed watching the barges lock through the TVA Wilson Lock. The lock lift is 94 feet. It is the highest single lift lock east of the Rocky Mountains. It has recently opened for tours on weekends. I wish you could have seen it during your visit here a few years ago.

  7. The family visited Mackinac Island a few years ago and I insisted we visit the locks. I love to see things like that, just a nerd I guess. Thanks for sharing your life and adventures with us:)

  8. When we lived in Seattle we went to the Ballard locks most Sunday evenings spring through fall. They too are about 100 years old and connect Lake Union with Puget Sound. Lots ov viewing area and a lovely park as well. Locks and ferries are favorites with me. We also tok a canal boat trip in England in 2005 - locks all day long for a week !

  9. I learned about how locks work in school, but I've never seen any in action. Now it's on my list of "things I want to see in person someday!"

    Enjoy your mountain time. :)

  10. Anonymous1:23 PM EDT

    Mu husband is a native of the Soo. We live down state now but go up every year and always go down by the locks. Such an interesting site when the big ore boats go in.

  11. Hi Bonnie I have been there and it is truly amazing. Sandra

  12. great picture story. i watched a documentary on building the panama canal, so interesting. how things work are always fascinating. thanks for the share.

  13. Sign me up for the Quiltmaker mag giveaway, please!
    Cathy Hale cathyjanehale@yahoo.com

  14. I am sure I was waving back from the Canadian side of the locks!! lol
    Beauty of day here too but the winds have blown away the sunshine and brought the rains that are suppose to be here for the weekend. Good time to be inside and doing quilty stuff!!

  15. If you ever get the chance, visit my hometown of Peterborough, Ontario. They have the Lift Locks which actually lift the boats 75 feet in the air to the next level! Glad you had fun!

  16. TVA in Kentucky has a lock system, no longer open for public viewing (terrorism risk?), but spent many enjoyable hours watching boats literally going up and down the river. Off topic:Celtic Solstice spotted at the Dixie Classic Fair! Unfortunately the way quilts are displayed, hanging above the exhibits from the rafters, doesn't lend itself well to photographing.

  17. Anyone visiting Seattle can see locks in action year round. The locks connect Lake Union with Puget Sound and although there's more pleasure craft that pass through, you sometimes see big ships too.


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