The Soo Locks

September 17, 2017- Day 44


Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada As Seen From Aune-Osborn Campground

We are in Sault St. Marie Michigan, a town of 14,000 souls. Across the St. Mary’s River is Sault St. Marie, Ontario Canada, a much larger city of 74,000 souls. Father Jacques Marquette established a mission at what was a Native American village back in 1668 Sault one of the oldest establishments in Michigan. French colonists later set up a fur trading post followed shortly by a settlement as the fur trading business grew.

Our Campsite/Chippewa County Courthouse/ View Towards International Bridge

We are staying at Aune-Osborn Campground located downriver from the Soo Locks and we can view ships passing in both directions. Nothing lies between us and the water but a narrow band of grass.


A Freighter Passes By Aune-Osborn Campground

Before locks were built canoes and cargo had to be portaged around the 21 foot high rapids that connected Lake Superior to Lake Huron. Lake Superior is 21′ higher than Huron, you see. The first lock was built in 1855.

Sault Ste. Marie Is Located In The Narrows In The U.S./Canada Boundary/Soo Locks

The current Soo locks can accommodate a 1000′ long lake freighter. It’s also the world’s busiest canal by tonnage. A great number of freighters passing through the locks carry iron ore. Interestingly, the large lake freighters are landlocked as the Welland Canal that bypasses Niagara Falls is limited to ships longer no than 740′. The freight is transferred from “lakers” to smaller seagoing ships known as “salties”.

Ok, before we set up camp I tried to contact the fella that had ordered the front landing gear motor for our coach. And I tried again, left a message, and even drove to his place of business but no one was there. He is supposed to open at 10 a.m. Down the street a quarter mile is a Walmart so we went over there to wait and do a little shopping. I called again at 11 a.m. and he answered. It took all of one minute to drive back to the shop, and 30 minutes to replace the motor which included time finding it in his dirty, cluttered shop. The shop keeper was a nice guy. He works part time for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as a seasonal firefighter so we had a little in common to talk about. The nice thing is that he didn’t overcharge and the new motor cured the problem. Thanks fellow firefighter!

Saul Tower and Ship Museum

Back to Sault St. Marie. We went to church this morning at St. Mary’s. The midwest has a lot of beautiful churches and this is certainly one of them. Mass was wonderful. The pastor is an avid gardener and can be frequently found getting his hands dirty on the church grounds. He is also an excellent photographer. We had plans to go up into the 210′ Tower of History but weather came in and it started to rain and blow pretty hard. Not good picture taking weather. The Tower which offers a 360 degree view. It was originally built in 1968 by the Catholic church as a shrine to past missionaries such as Bishop Baraga as part of a master plan. The plan didn’t materialize and the tower was donated to the Sault Historic Sites.

Temperatures have dropped from the 80’s and muggy yesterday to the low 60’s, cloudy and windy this evening. We had a downpour that flooded portions of the campground. That gave us an opportunity to take full advantage of the little laundromat here in camp. No one other than us seemed interested in using the facility which helped us expedite our clothes washing chore.

We’ve watched at least a dozen freighters pass our campground here on St. Mary’s River- from our coaches window!. There have been lots of pleasure boats too. And to top off our visit at Sault a water dropping Super Scooper twin engined seaplane made a few passes, scooping up a tank load of river water and dumping the water upriver. What a treat! I’ve seen the same type of plane scoop water from the Pacific Ocean and dump it on a brush fire in the hills of Malibu, CA.

Tomorrow we head south to the Mackinaw area. See you there!


Our First Sunset For A Long Time!

2 thoughts on “The Soo Locks”

  1. I have finally been able to log in to the website and catch up with your travels. Beautiful, unforgettable scenery and fascinating country. I have always wondered what it was like in the Great Lakes region. There is no better way to see and experience it like you are doing. The rest of us will just have to enjoy your journey through your very informative blogs. From now on I am bookmarking the previous logs to be sure we don’t miss any. We will be on our way to NYC on September 21 for two days of sightseeing before boarding a Princess cruise to Road Island, Boston, Bangor Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and finally Quebec City by Oct. 4th. We hope the weather and Fall leaves cooperate as we have been planning this trip for since June 2016.

    Jack and Bernice


    1. Hi Jack and Bernice,
      Enjoy your trip! It sounds like a lot of fun. We’ve seen some fall color but not a lot. The locals say that the weather has been cooler than usual with a lot of rain. We’ve been in Minnesota, Wisconsin and now Michigan for three weeks and haven’t had much rain….. but when it does it pours. Short lived like thunderstorms sometimes with lightning and thunder but usually just a downpour.
      Here is the home web page for our site. The new posts can be found by scrolling down. The last post is the first to appear:


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