We had an awesome day. Woke up to sunshine. It was in the 30's but since the wind was down it didn't feel all that cold. It got into the high 50s.
We started the day off by taking a two hour boat tour of the Soo Locks. They leave from the port at three different times: 10:00, 1:00 and 3:00. We got there about 9:15, Larry asked if the boat was heated and they said it was so we went on the 10:00 tour. The boat has two levels, the main level is enclosed and has heat and the upper level is open. Most of the passengers went on the upper deck, we started out in the enclosed area and moved up and down for different vantage points. As we were going down the river the tour guide told us the history of Sault Ste. Marie and the locks. The U.S. Corps of Engineers runs two huge locks and Canada runs a small lock. The U.S. moves the huge vessels in and out of Lake Superior and Lake Huron by either lowing the water 21 feet or rising the water 21 feet. The canal that goes through the locks is called St. Mary Canal. They have over 11,000 vessels going through the locks a year. The size of the vessels range from small passenger vessels and workboats to large 1,000 foot vessels. The vessels go through the locks free of charge. The Canadian lock is small and only moves small personal crafts.
When our tour boat arrived at the locks we had to wait a bit because there was a vessel already in the lock, so we rode around looking at the Canadian lock. The tour guide talked about some of the buildings by the lock in Canada. When it was time for us to go through the lock the captain turned around and slowly headed in. Once in the lock we were tied into place, then they started to add water to the lock. It takes 12 to 15 minutes to raise the water 21 feet. It was cool watching the water rise. We waved at the people in the observation building. After the water was added the gate opened and we headed up the river. As we were leaving the locks there was a big vessel waiting for its turn. The captain waved at us, it was neat to drive right by the huge ship. Our tour then took us to the Canadian side of the locks. We rode by a big steel plant and the guide explained how steel was made. We saw a worker loading steel on a barge. The Canadian lock is much smaller and quicker, it took 7 minutes to lower the water 21 feet. Back on the US side there is a huge building on the bank by the our dock, it is an electric company, the building is 1/4 mile long and was built in 1906, it is still being used. It was designed by an artist and the pillars look like lighthouses. It's a beautiful building. We had a super tour and the crew was very friendly and knowledgeable of the area.
|Closing the lock after we're inside|
|Starting to let water inside|
|Opening the gate to let us out|
|Large vessel going into the lock|
|Loading steel on a barde|
|Electric company building|
After the tour we had lunch in the Minnie. Then we went to the visitor center to watch vessels go through the locks. We watched the vessels for about two hours. It's fascinating watching them. When we finally left the locks, there were three vessels waiting to enter going outbound and another one going inbound. As each vessel enters into the lock the lady in the visitor center announces how big it is, it's name, what type of cargo it's carrying, what country it's from and who owns it. They have an application you can download onto your phone where you can track a vessel's movement. It's a very cool application. We had a fun time watching the vessels coming and going through the locks.
|A 1,000 foot vessel entering the locks|
|The afternoon tour boat|
|Waiting to go up|
|Raised up and ready to go|
|A vessel being lowered|
|Lowered down and waiting for the gate to open|
After leaving the locks we drove 50 miles down the road to another Kewadin Casino.This casino isn't as large or fancy as its sister but it was still very nice. After dinner I went over and gambled a few hours. Larry walked over with an umbrella to pick me up because the rain came back. Today I used my winnings from yesterday and I still came out a bit ahead. We had an outstanding day.