Monday, July 29, 2013

Sault Ste Marie Soo Locks Tour Boat

We made it onto the Tour Boat but waited until mid afternoon as it was particularly cold last night and the rain came down in torrents…  It might have made it into the 60s mid afternoon, but the clouds were overcast and we randomly saw the sun….  But lets go anyway……!


Once on the tour boat, which was the same one I pictured yesterday going thru the locks, we look back at our campground and a picture of where we were sitting under the canopy as it looked like rain still…  And the final shot is of the electric power station..  It was built in 1902 and looks old….


We passed on of these 1000 foot ore vessels…  how do you get a picture of one of these??  That tug is the ships store tender that brings out grocery orders so the boats don’t have to stop…..


About the time we were entering the American side locks, we were told to leave, or wait until the up river traffic locked on thru….  So we turned around and chased after that big freighter..  Its called the American Integrity…  From there on the pictures are on the Canadian side of the river…


The Canadian Lock caved in some years ago, so they built a newer lock inside of the old one…  More narrow and much shorter……


Again we are on the down side of the locks, and you can see the water level above the small crafts windshield.  Once full, the doors open into the rest of the now unused lock.. And the last shot is back at the US locks as we were leaving the Canadian high side…


Canada may not have the best locks, but they have the largest employer in the area with the steel mill.  Essar Steel, a global steel producer world wide owns and runs this facility…  The three round tank like structures to the right of the man’s head are the blast furnaces for making steel.  It is rolled into coils and loaded onto barges just visible in the far right of the photo..  In the last picture, we are back at the up river side of the US locks, and they are both still full..


We want the smaller side closest to the observation tower, and here comes the freighter out of it and passing us..


Did that big ship fit in this small lock?  And the viewing stand where I took the pictures yesterday…  And as we sink it disappeared.  It felt like someone pulled the plug in our bathtub..


And that big freighter that was in the big lock next to us came out at the same time we did..  Its huge too.. Can’t get a shot of it in one picture……  Or can I?


Its called the American Century….

The American Century was built in 1981 by  Bay Shipbuilding Corporation of Sturgeon Bay as the Columbia Star, in part, for the brig Columbia, a ship that in 1855 carried the first iron ore through the locks now known as the Soo. In 2006, she was purchased from Oglebay Norton by American Steamship Company in Buffalo and received her current name. She is 1,000 feet long and is operated with 4 General Motors diesel engines. She has a 260-foot self unloading boom on her deck. She averages about 40 trips a year to Duluth Superior, usually loading coal at Midwest Energy Resources in Superior. Notice in the latest pictures, she is painted black, the American Steamship color; before that, she was iron ore red, the color of Oglebay Norton boats. During the 2012-13 shipping season the American Century made 31 visits to the Twin Ports.  Copied form the Duluth Shipping News… 

So that was the tour, and now you won’t have to drive all the way here in order to go along….

Retired Rod



  1. Thanks for the tour and great photos, Rod, it was interesting seeing those locks again.

    That is one big ship that's for sure. Every time I see one of those iron ore freighters on Lake Superior I hear the haunting refrain of Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald".

  2. I wish the U.S. had a couple of steel mills and slightly inferior locks. Seems like it would be better for the economy. I will never understand why we let them close down so we could buy foreign steel.

  3. Rod,
    I am originally from a town just North of Sturgeon Bay,
    Wi. I know Bay ship and many folks that worked there through the years ... Good to see the ship that started there and the history .... Thanks for that !!!
    Enjoyed the tour !!! Hope you get some sunshine sooooon !!!! HAVE FUN !!!!

  4. Thanks for the great photo tour, but I still want to see it for myself someday. It's on the bucket list.


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