Sault St. Marie, Michigan

In order to see how large ships complete their travels through the Great Lakes into Lake Superior we had to cross over into the United States and visit Sault St. Marie, Michigan. So armed with our passports we headed off for Sault St. Marie, Michigan … well one of us was armed with our passport 😦  It wasn’t until we were on the International Bridge, with no way to turn around, that we realized hubby’s passport wasn’t in the passport folder. We arrived at US customs and hubby handed over my passport and his driver’s license and explained that it turned out we didn’t have his passport with us. Now this could have been a very unpleasant experience but we were blessed with the funniest border agent we have ever come across! Here is how the conversation went:

Border Agent – Well I guess I’m going to have to ask you some questions. When did you last cross the border?

Hubby – Last July. I’m telling hubby it was June but he is not paying attention to me.

Border Agent – Did you cross at Orville?

Hubby – Yes and we crossed in June. Now he is listening to me 🙂

Border Agent – What day in June, bet you don’t know that? He says with a big smile.

Hubby – My wife will know. That’s a smart man!

Border Agent – Well I know the date but let’s see if you are right.

Me – June 22nd, after looking at the calendar in my phone.

Border Agent – What time of the day?

Me – shrugging my shoulders (seriously I don’t remember) … In the morning?

Border Agent – Nope, 4:22 in the afternoon. I always suspected they had this information in their computers but now I know for sure.

Then some conversation ensued about what we were doing in the morning, and that brought on a few laughs.

Border Agent – What hospital were you born in? Now he’s just having fun with hubby.

Hubby – St. Paul’s in Vancouver.

Border Agent – What room where you in?

Hubby – Uhmm … the maternity ward?

Border Agent – They had maternity wards way back then? Wait a minute, he wasn’t a whole lot younger that us! Now hubby and him are onto a conversation about the difference in medical systems.

After that it was just a bunch of laughs and then he finally asked were we where going. After telling him we were going to visit the Soo locks he proceeded to give us directions, tell us the best place to park and where the observation tower was. He also told us where to find the museum and a few other places. We were having a grand old time but I did feel sorry for all the people behind us! Finally the laughs were over and we were on our way, not a single one of the customary questions. Definitely a crossing for our memory book!

Just after clearing customs we went through another booth, this one was a tollbooth where they collected $3.50 USD for crossing the bridge. Then it was a quick drive down to the waterfront where we spent $1.50 to park on the street for three hours.

Across the street was the Soo Locks Visitor Information booth and an observation platform to view the locks.

We were fortunate to arrive just as the bulk carrier Federal Seto was approaching the locks from the St. Marys River.  (And just in case you are thinking St. Marys should have an apostrophe I double checked on the internet and no it doesn’t have one. :-))

The Federal Seto was built in 2004 and flies under the flag of the Marshal Islands. She is 200m in length and has a gross tonnage of 20,661. She travelled through the Poe lock which was built in 1968, is 1200 feet in length, 110 feet wide, and 32 feet deep.

As we watched the Federal Seto enter the Poe lock a Coast Guard ship was in the MacArthur lock right in front of the viewing platform.

The water level is going down.

It was interesting to watch the water go down for the Coast Guard vessel while the cargo ship was entering the other lock where the water was already down.

The gates at the Lake Superior end of the MacArthur lock. This was taken while water was draining to allow the Coast Guard vessel to enter the St. Marys River.

People on the viewing platform had fun waving at the sailors on the ship, and they enthusiastically waved backed. I also had a laugh at one of the sailors taking a selfie 🙂

It really didn’t take long for the lock to fill up.


And then the Federal Seto was sailing off into Lake Superior.

We were pretty happy to have the opportunity to see a large ship go through the locks and even happier when we found out another ship was scheduled to go through the MacArthur lock a few hours later. Since the MacArthur lock is the lock right in front of the viewing platform we decided to have lunch and then return to watch the event. The MacArthur lock was constructed in 1943, is 800 feet in length, 80 feet wide, and 31 feet deep.

The Michipicoten was built in 1952 and flies under the Canadian flag. She is 208m in length and has a gross tonnage of 15,366. She is a self discharging bulk carrier and sat much lower in the lock upon entry than the Federal Seto.

Waiting for the locks to fill. If you look at the front of the ship you can see the lock doors.

Looking back toward the St. Marys River where the ship entered the lock.

  Sailing off into Lake Superior.

As we entered the bridge to return to Canada we again had to pay $3.50 USD. I thought it was strange that only the American’s collect a toll when both countries maintain the bridge.

We have really enjoyed our time in both Sault St. Marie’s. And in case you are wondering, other than a question about why he didn’t have a passport, hubby had no problems at the Canadian border.

Until next time …

2 thoughts on “Sault St. Marie, Michigan

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