Capistrano has their swallows, but a sure sign of Spring in Michigan is when the freighters return to the Great Lakes. One of the best places for shipwatching is right where Krystal took this photo: Mission Point at the mouth of the North Channel near the Soo Locks.
This would be where I would tell you the fascinating history of why the winter harbor at Rogers City was referred to as the Frog Pond, but I’m unable to find much except for that’s what everyone calls it. There’s one in Toledo too.
The Presque Isle County Historical Museum is located in the historic home of Carl D. Bradley, general manager of Michigan Limestone and subsidiary Calcite Transportation. About the photo, they write:
The Bradley fleet layed-up in the “frog pond” at Calcite in 1949. From left to right are the W. F. White, B. H. Taylor, John G. Munson, Carl D. Bradley, T. W. Robinson, and Calcite.
Click for more about the Carl D Bradley which ultimately became one of Michigan’s most tragic wrecks.
via today’s Five Things you need to know about Michigan on Absolute Michigan comes a Detroit Free Press report on the potentially dire consequences for the US & Michigan if the Soo Locks fail:
A U.S. Department of Homeland Security report indicates a 6-month shutdown of the Poe Lock in Sault Ste. Marie, if one occurred, would plunge the nation into recession, closing factories and mines, halting auto and appliance production in the U.S. for most of a year and result in the loss of some 11 million jobs across the nation.
The report, obtained by the Free Press through the Freedom of Information Act, paints a grim picture of the outcome of any long-term shutdown of the Poe, the only one of the so-called Soo Locks able to handle the 1,000-foot-long vessels that each year move millions of tons of iron ore from mines in Minnesota and northern Michigan to steel mills dotting the lower Great Lakes and beyond.
….But what is also clear from the Homeland Security report is that while a longer-term shutdown would be catastrophic, even a shorter one could have a much wider impact than previously thought: If such a closure occurred at the Poe during the March 25-Jan. 15 shipping season, for instance, as much as 75% of the nation’s steel output could be halted within two to six weeks.
Read on for more, including a video of a ship going into the locks.
More Soo Locks on Michigan in Pictures!
While I’ve shared numerous photos from the Soo Locks, I’ve never provided the history of one of Michigan’s defining marvels. The Sault Ste. Marie Convention & Visitors Bureau has a brief Soo Locks history:
In 1797, the Northwest Fur Company constructed a navigation lock 38 feet long on the Canadian side of the river for small boats. This lock remained in use until destroyed in the War of 1812. Freight and boats were again portaged around the rapids.
Congress passed an act in 1852 granting 750,000 acres of public land to the State of Michigan as compensation to the company that would build a lock permitting waterborne commerce between Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes. The Fairbanks Scale Company, which had extensive mining interests in the Upper Penninsula, undertook this challenging construction project in 1853.
In spite of adverse conditions, Fairbanks’ aggressive accountant, Charles T. Harvey, completed a system of two locks, in tandem, each 350 feet long, within the 2 year deadline set by the State of Michigan. On May 31, 1855, the locks were turned over to the state and designated as the State Lock.
The federal government took control of the property and the lock system in the 1870’s. Their stewardship continues today, administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Soo Locks are the busiest locks in the world, and include the largest lock in the Western Hemisphere, completed in 1968.
You can click through for some more information and pictures, but definitely head over to the Detroit Army Corps of Engineers Soo Locks History page for a timeline of all the locks that have been built. You can also get an animated demo of how the locks work and look in on the locks via the Soo Locks Webcams.