Letters

Letters 07-21-2014

Disheartened

While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...


Home · Articles · News · Features · Michigan‘s Oldest Town...
. . . .

Michigan‘s Oldest Town Celebrates The 150th Anniversary Of The Soo Lochs

Len Barnes - September 1st, 2005
Traveling to the Upper Peninsula and the Soo Locks is a snap today. It’s an easy drive of about three hours from Traverse City, or two from Petoskey, with pleasant stops along the way. My Aunt Mary used to tell us that at the beginning of the 1900s it took as long as 12 hours to get from the family farm in Elk Rapids to Traverse City by sleigh in the winter... She didn’t remember how long it took to get from St. Ignace to Elk Rapids.
We made the trip to commemorate the 150th year of the opening of the locks and the establishment of Sault Ste. Marie. If you’re interested in a road trip, Labor Day weekend marks the final locks celebration of the summer.
The Soo, as it’s called, is still a relatively undeveloped area, although there are signs that modern-day entrepreneurs are at work building large condo units overlooking the locks. Two nearby Indian casinos attract a lot of visitors and
there’s some traffic action on the International Bridge that links the two Sault Ste. Maries: Canadian and American.
However, the city on the American side
of the border is still low key and mainly dependent upon the traffic that goes through the locks,
along with jobs related to the shipping industry
and tourism.

NO CHARGE
Of note, there is no charge for the use of the locks, either for pleasure craft or commercial traffic, and there are sightseeing boats on both sides of the St. Mary’s River offering day trips and dinner and lunch cruises through the locks.
Staying at the Best Western on the
1-75 business route, we were out of town but still within minutes of it and the area’s tourist attractions. One is the Tower of History, which gives one beautiful views of the town and the St. Mary’s River.
Also worth a visit are the Ship Museum Valley Camp, and the docks where the sightseeing boats are moored.
We had made a dinner cruise through the Locks from the Canadian Soo a few years ago on the Chief Shingwauk, a double-decker boat. This summer, we took the 272-passenger Voyageur whose sisters Holiday, Hiawatha and Bide a Wee are also 65 feet long, 25 feet wide. It’s about a two-hour tour which costs $18.50 per person.
We went along the St. Mary’s River to the Locks passing several freighters. We were informed of the various points of interest as we went by the four-story hydroelectric power plant. Behind us was the 670 foot long vessel Saginaw on its way north to get a load of steel.
We were told that 120 persons man the four locks. The first of the locks also has the largest capacity; it’s the 1,200 foot long Poe Lock. At 12:30 p.m. our boat turned around to return through the Canadian locks and we could see the Ontario Steel Mills with lights blazing and piles of stone, rock, coal and crushed limestone piled high outside.

DINING OUT
For dining in the Soo, a visit to Antler’s near the locks is a must. The AAA Tourbook says of it: “More than two dozen mounted animals and a bell and whistle display lend to the casual ambience of the large noisy restaurant. A tasty homemade bbq sauce wakes up the flavor of the slow-cooked baby back ribs.”
Sure enough, there were racks of antlers, deer, moose, cougars, bears, several lions, a framed wild turkey and a boa constrictor, but what my wife Ellen liked best were the Detroit street signs reminding her of the area in which she grew up.
We had a garlic shrimp appetizer at $3.95, passing up the salmon steak for $9.95. We tried
one of four homemade soups at $3.75, the vegetable beef with big chunks of “Babe the Blue Ox”
-- very good!
Another delightful place to eat is right down by the locks. Freighters offers good food and a spectacular view of the ships passing through the channels in front of you.
Located in the Ramada Hotel in downtown Sault Ste. Marie, overlooking a little park, the AAA Tourbook rates the restaurant at Two Diamonds, saying, “The intimate restaurant is a comfortable spot for casual upscale dining with succulent prime rib Sunday night.” We sat on the upper level of Freighters, looking out on the locks and the International Bridge. As we watched, a ship appeared downbound and soon another upbound through the lock.

CONVERTED FREIGHTER
Before making the return trip home, we stopped at the Museum Ship Valley Camp which gives an idea of the shipping industry. It actually is a converted freighter filled with artifacts of the area and the ships that pass through it. You can journey from the captain’s quarters to the engine room (which still retains the smell of fuel), to the huge hold which once carried tons of ore. There are aquariums along one wall, and many items of interest including the automatic wheel of the ship. The sounds are eerie as the waves slap up against her, and one can almost imagine what it might have been like on the Great Lakes.

150th Celebration closing ceremonies will be held September 2, including a Soo Locks Open House, VIP reception and anniversary ball with all state governors and the President invited to attend.
 
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