The crowd watching the freighter Ojibway leave the McArthur Lock
We were lazy getting started and checking out of the Riviera before driving to Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. This was Soo Locks Engineer's Day, the one day of the year when the security fence gates are opened and the public is permitted to walk over the lock gates and explore the buildings. I went to college in the Soo in the 1970s, but they never permitted this back then. The locks particularly interest me because my father drove a dump truck during the construction of the McArthur Lock during WW2.
The locks circumvent the rapids on the St. Mary's River between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. Ships up to more than 1,000' long are raised or lowered 21' in the locks. There are about 10,000 passages through the locks each year. One boat was already in the closer McArthur Lock when we arrived, but after watching it start being lowered, we went on to the Poe Lock where we watched the 730' Capt. Henry Jackman enter the locks and cycle all the way through. We also toured a couple of the Corps of Engineers buildings and checked out displays from the Corps of Engineers, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Lake Superior State University and other area organizations.