Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Soo Locks Boat Tour

After checking into my hotel, I decided to take the Soo Lock Boat Tours.  This is another thing that I've never done before.  Again, it was a pretty nice day to do this and I think I picked the right time because the boat wasn't too crowded.  That gave me almost run of the boat.
 The boat we took was the Bide-A-Wee and was built in 1955 by the Blount Marine Corporation in Warren, Rhode Island.  Bide-A-Wee is a Scottish phrase for "stay a while".  She is currently the oldest boat in the Soo Locks Boat Tour's fleet and is the third boat to bear this name.
 As we were leaving the dock, I caught a view of this Coast Guard boat.  It is a 30 foot Defender class boat.
 A bow shot of the Katmai Bay.
 Looking at the Tower of History from the boat.
 Another view of the Katmai Bay.  The Katmai Bay is a tug/icebreaker.  Evidently, the Coast Guard Station in Sault Ste Marie is one of the largest on the Lakes.
 A pair of tugs from Great Lakes Towing.
 The Whitefish Bay is a harbor tug used by the Corps of Engineers.
 One of the cool things about the Soo Locks boat tours is that you get a view of the Soo Locks that you wouldn't normally get otherwise.  I was happy to be entering the MacArthur Lock in this way.
 The MacArthur Lock is 800 foot long by about 80 feet wide.  The Lock either raises or lowers 21 feet (depending on which way you are going).  Since we were heading towards Lake Superior, we would be raising 21 feet.
 Looking up at the Admistration Tower.
 Looking back towards the other gate.
 The front gate.  You can see the swirls of water as the Lock is filling.  The locks are entirely dependent upon gravity to either fill or empty.  Depending on which way it is going, certain valves either open or close to either fill or empty the lock.
 You can see some of the swirls of water.
 The lock was almost filled and we would be on our way.  I think it took about 15 minutes for the lock to fill.
 The gates opened and we were on our way.
 A shot of the International Bridge that I wouldn't normally get.
 These giant beams are used in the event of a gate failure.  They can be put into the locks to act as a dam.
 Looking down the length of the International Bridge.
 Another view of the International Bridge that I wouldn't get otherwide.
 The building on the left is used to control the lift bridge when trains are getting ready to pass through.
 Looking back at the International Bridge and some of the rail bridges.
 A shot of the Soo Locks Boat Tours flag.
 The Algonorth in the process of being scrapped.
 A shot of the Algoma Steel Mill.  We would spend a fair amount of time wandering around this area.
 A fuller view of the International Bridge.
 This crane is used to transport the raw materials from the dock into the steel mill.  In a pinch it could be used to unload a straight decker but those are rare instances because it takes so long.
 Another view of the crane.
 We came back through the Canadian Soo Lock.
 This is older rail bridge.  The sandstone on the left was removed as the locks were being dug.
 This bridge is used to put the dams down like on the other side.
 And we approach the Lock.  The Canadian Lock was originally built in 1895 and was used for regular shipping traffic until 1987 when there was an incident with the walls.  The Lock was closed and converted to pleasure traffic.  It is now operated by the Canadian Parks Service.
 The Administration Building for the Canadian Locks.
 A Canalers office.
 Looking back at the Canadian Lock.  It is the only electrically operated lock in the world.
 Another one of the Locks buildings.
 The Canadian Coast Guard buoy tender Cove Isle.
 A pair of tugboats but I'm not sure who they are owned by.
 A Purvis Tugboat, the Avenger.
 One of the Marine yards on the American Side.
 Looking down the hydro plant.
Since I've never seen the hydro plant from this vantage point, I never noticed the lighthouses in the stone works.

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