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Sault Ste Marie's Blog

5 Things You Might Not Know about the Soo Locks

Posted on March 28th, 2017

The 2017 Shipping Season is now underway and with the freighters running again we thought we would fill your head with some great facts about the Soo Locks.

 

1. The Soo Locks make their own electricity and sell the excess to the local power utility (they only use about 5% of what they make). There have been hydro plants at the head of the St. Marys Rapids since the 1880s.
Electricity
2. The St. Marys River is dammed. The locks, hydro plants, and compensating works above the rapids act as a dam and regulate the water flowing out of Lake Superior. An international treaty with Great Britain signed in 1910 governs water use. (Canada has since replaced Great Britain in this treaty)

Soo Locks Sault Ste Marie MI

Photo by Instagrammer just_uncle_jay

3. The River section for the Soo Area Office (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) is responsible for 550 miles of coastline, and 10 federal harbors.

4. The hard sandstone that creates the rapids and makes the river impassible is part of the Jacobsville formation and the same stone that makes Pictured Rocks. Here at the Soo the stone extends up to 1,000 feet below the surface. The pink color comes from iron trapped in the rock.
Jacobsville Sand Stone
5. The old Weather Bureau Building within the Soo Locks Park was put there so weather dispatches could be easy and quickly passed on to passing boat captains. The Weather Bureau Building is now a free museum belonging to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Society open to the public in the summer.
Old Weather Building Sault Ste. Marie MI
These are just a few cool facts that you can learn from visiting the Soo Locks Visitors Center inside of the Soo Locks Park and there is so much more information. The Visitor Center is open mid-May until mid-October and free to the public.

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