Engineer’s Day

On one day a year, you can get close to the Soo Locks:

Engineers Day

Camera: Nikon D70

In June of every year the Corps of Engineers holds an open house at the Soo Locks, and thousands of fans show up to explore the grounds, view the passing ships from an unusual perspective, and look over the exhibits. Yesterday was that day, and Joan and I were among the crowd. Here we see some of the visitors crossing the massive gate which holds back Lake Superior at the the downriver end of the 105 foot wide Poe Lock.

While Sault Ste. Marie is an ancient city by North American standards–the first white settlers arrived in the 1500s, and there’s been a city at this location since 1638–the event which defines the modern Sault occurred on June 18, 1855, when a ship named the Illinois traversed the then-new Soo Locks and opened traffic between Lake Superior and the rest of the Great Lakes–thus connecting the Lake Superior iron and copper mines to the eastern United States. The locks have been rebuilt and expanded since then, but the traffic’s been constant, and constitute an important part of the American economy.

They’re celebrating the sesquicentennial this summer, and the celebration began yesterday. We missed the opening ceremony, but had a fine time wandering the grounds and watching as St. Clair and Herbert C. Jackson passed through the locks yesterday.