Soo Locks - Overview
The Soo Locks is one of many great places and tourist attractions in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. Come discover the Soo Locks in Saut Ste Marie and marvel at the sight of 1000 ft freighters being raised and lowered by the magnificent waterway system constructed in 1850.
Come discover the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie and marvel at the sight of 1000 ft freighters being raised and lowered by the magnificent waterway system constructed in 1850. Located in Sault. Ste. Marie just an hour north of Mackinaw on I-75, the Soo Locks feature the largest waterway traffic system in the world! From your position on the upper viewing level you can watch ocean-going vessels as they rise or drop the 21 feet between the levels of the St. Mary's River, allowing you to stand close enough to almost reach out and touch these massive vessels.
Inside the visitor’s center you will find a variety of historical and fun information portrayed by artifacts, photographs, a film presentation and an actual working model of the locks. The visitor’s center featuring exhibits detailing the history and heritage of the Soo Locks system is open from 7am to 11pm. mid May to November. Don’t let your fun with the locks stop at the viewing docks and visitor center, climb aboard a touring ship and make your own voyage through the locks standing alongside each passing ship. Soo Locks Boat Tours is one of Michigan’s top attractions, featuring a 2 hour narrated trip where you will learn about the history of the Locks and Michigan’s oldest city, Sault Ste. Marie. There are many departure times and reservations are not required. If you need a change of pace after a long day at the Locks, the Sault is also located near four casino gaming facilities: Kewadin Casino in the Sault; King’s Club Casino and Bay Mills Resort and Casino in Brimley; and the Casino Sault Ste. Marie in Canada. Why not put a relaxing finish to your night by enjoying a dinner cruise on the St. Mary’s River, sightseeing in Sugar Island’s Old North Channel and ride through the Soo Locks while enjoying a delicious buffet style dinner with dessert.
First established in 1688 as a European colony, Sault Ste. Marie is the third oldest permanent settlement in the United States. Before the Europeans arrived North American Indians inhabited the area for nearly 2,000 years. A small native community was established along the shores of the St. Mary and quickly became an important gathering place for food and council meetings. The first European settlement involved French Fur Traders who eventually named the area Sault St. Marie in honor of the Virgin Mary. Others debate the naming of Sault Ste. Marie including some French speakers who claim that Sault means to “jump”, so Sault. Ste. Marie is where you come to “jump” the St. Mary River.
For more information on Sault Ste. Marie or the locks, feel free to visit them on their website at www.soolocks.com.
MISSPELLINGS of this attraction include: SAULT LOCKS, SOO SAINTE MARIE, SUE SAINT MARIE, SUE LOCKS, SAULT ST. MARY, SAULT ST. MARIE
Soo Locks - Boat Tours
Virtual brochure and information for Soo Locks Tours, one of many online travel brochures for tourist information in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. Provided by your source for Mackinaw Information and Mackinac Information.
Dock #1 - 1157 E. Portage Ave. Dock #2 - 515 E. Portage Ave.
P.O. Box 739
Ride through the world famous Soo Locks on a Soo Locks Boat Tour.
Experience “locking through” the Soo Locks. Your narrator will explain the history and operation of the Locks as your boat is raised 21 feet, straight up, to the level of Lake Superior.
After your downbound lockage, enjoy a cruise along the historic waterfronts of Michigan and Canada.
See all four U.S. Locks, St. Mary's Rapids, three hydro-electric plants and historic scenic waterfronts of U.S. and Canada.
Experience “locking through” from Lake Huron to Lake Superior.
Cruise underneath International Highway Bridge, and get a sailor's view of many interesting sites.
Cruise along side Lake freighters & ocean vessels.
Learn about passing ships as you get a close up view from your boat.
Boats are climate controlled with restrooms and snack bars.
Docks and Boats are Handicap Accessible.
FREE kennel services available for Soo Locks Boat Tour customers.
Adult Rate 13 yrs & over. Child Rate 5-12 yrs. 4 yrs & under FREE.
Reservations not required for Soo Lock Tour.
Back of brochure contains information regarding Dinner & Luncheon Cruises and Lighthouse & Specialty Cruises. (Reservations highly recommended).
Tickets available on-line at www.soolocks.com
*2010-2011 Soo Locks Tour
ALL DEPARTURES DOCK #1 -
DOCK #1 AND DOCK #2 DEPARTURES -
ALL DEPARTURES DOCK #2 -
NO PASSPORT NEEDED
SOO LOCKS LUNCEON CRUISE
2010-2011 Luncheon Cruise Schedule. Luncheon Cruise is about 2 ½ hours. Reservations are recommended.
All Departures from Dock #1 -
All Departures from Dock #2 -
Luncheon Cruise Menu
St. Mary's River Lighthouse Cruise
Private Charters & Special Cruises
Soo Locks Dinner Cruise
Dinner Cruise Menu -
Buffet Accompaniments (Selections Vary By Entree).
NO PASSPORT NEEDED
2010-2011 Dinner Cruise Schedule - Dinner Cruise is about 2 1/2 hours. Reservations are recommended.
All Departures from Dock #1 - May 15 - June 17, Call for departure dates & times. June 18 - August 20, Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat Departs 5:30. July 1 & July 4, Special Dinner & Fireworks Cruises Departs 7:00 pm.
All Departures from Dock #2 - August 21 - October 7, Mon, Thurs, Sat Departs
5:30 pm. October 8 - October 15, Call for Departure dates & times.
Here's what our past customers have to say about our cruises...
Soo Locks - Army Corp of Engineers
Virtual brochure and information for the Soo Locks, one of many online travel brochures for tourist information in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. Provided by your source for Mackinaw Information and Mackinac Information.
US Army Corps of Engineers - Detroit District
Vessels wishing to use the locks can reach the Chief Lockmaster on VHS-FM channel 14 (preferred) or channel 16.
US Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District: www.Ire.usace.army.mil
1-888-694-8313 Detroit District
The Soo Locks
The Soo Locks consist of two canals and four locks: Davis Lock, Poe Lock, MacArthur Lock, and the Sabin Lock (closed), that allow vessels of many types and sizes to safely traverse the 21-foot drop in elevation of the St. Marys River between Lake Superior and Lakes Michigan and Huron.
Long ago the Ojibway (Chippewa) Indians, who lived in the area, would carry their canoes around the rapids to reach Lake Superior from the St. Marys River.
As European pioneers arrived creating larger settlements with increased trading the need for larger boats grew. It became necessary to unload the boats, haul the cargo around the rapids in wagons, and then reload alternate boats on the other side. This process took valuable time. The need to build a lock became apparent thus the world-famous Soo Lokcs were built to form a passage around the rapids in the river.
When the locks were built -
When the Corps took over -
Future of the Locks
The Corps has plans to replace the Davis and Sabin Locks with a larger state-of-the-art lock, similar to the Poe Lock, to assist in handling the larger vessels of the Great Lakes fleet.
The new locks will be the first lock built at the Soo since 1968. The Corps is looking forward to building this project and bringing this technologically advance facility to the people of the United States.
The Corps is proud of its facilities and welcomes visitors from all over the world to this American treasure. The grounds surrounding the locks contain many buildings and structures such as the spectacular fountain located in the park adjacent to the lock complex. The park, open to the public most of the year, is host to many activities, including weddings, and arts and craft festivals held throughout the year.
Every year the general public has access to the locks, on Engineers Day, always the last Friday in June. On this day visitors can venture past the MacArthur Lock into the Administration Building and further into the lock area between the MacArthur and Poe Locks to watch the vessels up close.
The beautifully remodeled visitors center is open from May to November. The Center provides a welcome to visitors, an overview and history of the Locks, and the Army Corps of Engineers’ role in the development of the Great Lakes region. Included in the many interesting gexhibits is a working model of the locks. A small theater features videos on locks history, the Great Lakes, and Great Lakes water levels. Several television monitors within the center display the ships transiting the locks while the knowledgeable staff at the center provide audio information on the vessels as they approach the locks. Information about the size of a vessel, its national origin, tonnage, cargo, destination, and arrival time are provided throughout the day. The Center also contains many artifacts, charts, maps and photographs.
You many also see ships locking through the system on the internet at: www.crrel.usace.army.mil/ierd/webcams/soo/
Ships pass the Administration building located between the MacArthur and Poe Locks.
MacArthur Lock -
Davis Lock -
Sabin Lock (closed) -
The 63 mile long St. Marys River drops 21 feet from Lake Superior to Lakes Huron and Michigan. Most of this drop occurs at the St. Marys Rapids (also referred to as St. Marys Falls).
How navigation locks operate
With both upper gates and lower gates closed, and with the emptying valve closed and the filling valve open, the lock chamber has been filled to the upper level. The upper gates are then opened, allowing the ship to enter the lock chamber.
Now the ship is in the lock chamber. The upper and lower gates and the filling valve are closed. The emptying valve has been opened to allow water to flow from the lock chamber to the lower level.
With the water level in the lock chamber down to the lower level, the lower gates have been opened, and the ship is leaving the lock chamber. After this, the lock is ready for an upbound ship to come in and be lifted, or may be filled to lower another downbound ship.
Freight Capacity Comparison
It is estimated that the Soo Locks water route reduces transportation costs by an average of more than $4.90 per ton. Based on 1997 tonnages, this represents an annual transportation costs savings to the nation of approximately $450 million.
Buildings and Structures of Interest