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Spotlight Project

For a variety of reasons, some of the projects on which Heritage Research, Ltd., works are unique.  The resources investigated, for instance, may employ a unique technology.  Or, perhaps, the subject of a study is particularly well known.  The "Spotlight Project" page is intended to identify some of those challenging projects on which HRL has worked, and then to present them in more depth than that provided in our Project Portfolio.  This page will be revised quarterly.  We hope that a review of this material will reveal more fully the capabilities of HRL and its staff.

Historic American Engineering Record Documentation (HAER):

Property Name: St. Marys Falls Canal (Soo Locks)

Property Location: St. Maryís River at the Falls, Sault Ste. Marie, MI

Statement of Significance: The locks of the St. Marys Falls Canal reflect a national level of significance in settlement, transportation, industrial, and engineering history. The completion of the State Locks in 1855 effectively opened to settlement the territory around Lake Superior. Prior to that, large-scale settlement of the region was impractical. Ultimately, it was discovered that the land made accessible by the canal was rich in copper and iron ore. These deposits fed the nationís industrial revolution in the latter portion of the nineteenth century. Naturally, the primary method of transporting large amounts of this mineral wealth was through the St. Marys Falls Canal. Until the 1950s, the fleet serving the Great Lakes made the Sault Canal the busiest waterway in the world. Due to the dramatic growth of shipping on the Lakes, the St. Marys Falls Ship Canal has received constant attention by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over its history. Between 1881 and 1969, the Corps constructed six locks on the American side of the Sault. Each embodied the most advanced form of lock technology known at the time of their construction. Additionally, several of the structures were the largest in the world at the time.

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The Soo Complex: The focus of this project was the following: general Soo Locks Complex, Davis and Sabin lock subcomplexes, Emergency Dam Steam Plant and Military Defense sub complex. Additional components of the property include the MacArthur and New Poe Lock subcomplexes.

Documentation Provided: 59 exterior photos; 15 interior photos; 27 photographic copies of original drawings; 14 photographic copies of historic photos; 180 data pages.

Project Date: 2000

Photographs:  The photos below illustrate various aspects of the Soo Locks.  The first four, black and white images are part of the official HAER document prepared for the complex, while the remaining four, color photographs were simply taken during fieldwork for HRL's reference.

 A typical "lock house" at the Sabin and Davis Locks.

  The machinery used to open and close the lock gates.

  The lock gates at the New Poe Lock.  View to Northwest.

  The Davis Lock.  View to the Southeast.

 The Soo Locks from the air.  View to Southeast.

  The MacArthur and New Poe locks from the Admin. Building.

  A 1,000-foot freighter entering the locks in December, 2000.

  The top of a wench at the Northwest end of the Davis Lock.