A Wonder of Engineering & Human Ingenuity
Affectionately called the “Linchpin of the Great Lakes” by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the Soo Locks are an engineering marvel with roots dating back to the mid-1800s. Each year it’s estimated that 500,000 people visit these iconic locks that connect Lakes Superior and Huron.
Thanks to the Soo Locks freighters over 1,000 feet in length can traverse freely along the St. Marys River all the way from Duluth, Minnesota outward into the Atlantic Ocean and beyond. Roughly 7,000 vessels pass through the Locks yearly hauling nearly 86 million tons of cargo. See how freighters, barges, tugboats and more are lifted and lowered the 21-foot difference between Superior and Huron here.
Most ships utilize the Poe Lock (1,200 feet) which was rebuilt in 1968 to accommodate larger and more modern ships. The MacArthur Lock (800 feet), constructed in 1943, is still in operation as well. It is the lock closest to Sault Ste. Marie, which the observation deck in the Soo Locks Park overlooks, and was named after General Douglas MacArthur. The Davis and Sabin Locks were built in 1914 and 1919 respectively. Currently, only Soo Area Office vessels use the Davis while the Sabin was officially decommissioned in 2010 after being inactive since 1989.