Soo Locks To Close For Season Next Week: Our Favorite Freighter Photos from 2023

Soo Locks To Close For Season Next Week: Our Favorite Freighter Photos from 2023

Algoma Sault Soo Locks Freighter PHotos 2023

The Soo Locks will close for annual maintenance on January 15th, so we thought it would be a great time to look back at the freighters we saw in 2023. The MacArthur Lock has been closed since mid-December for dam safety inspections and routine maintenance, while the Poe Lock will remain open until the 15th. During the closure (which lasts until late March) the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers performs inspections, does routine maintenance, and replaces worn components. These seasonal shutdowns are essential to ensuring that the locks function properly during the shipping season and also coincide with a time period that typically sees the Upper Great Lakes covered in ice. Here’s a look at our favorite freighter photos from 2023, which come from trips to Sault Ste. Marie, Port Huron, Mackinaw City, Detroit, Cheboygan, and Charlevoix.

Joyce L VanEnkevort Great Lakes Trader Soo Locks 2023

This year the Soo Locks moved into Phase 2 of a construction project that is expected to last until 2030. This project will see the decommissioned Davis and Sabin locks demolished and a new lock that is the same size as the Poe lock (1,200 ft long by 110 feet wide) built in its place. Right now, the Poe is the only lock that can handle the 1,000 foot freighters that travel the upper Great Lakes and it is believed that a delay of any kind due to this lock breaking down or being closed could have billions of dollars of impact to the United States economy. The Poe lock in its current configuration opened in 1969, while the MacArthur lock is almost 80 years old and measures 800 feet by 80 feet. The MacArthur lock is named for General Douglas MacArthur, while the Poe lock is named for engineer Orlando Poe, who designed the lock and many of our Michigan lighthouses.

2023 Freighter Photos Mackinac Bridge

The first ship through the Soo Locks in 2023 was the Edwin H. Gott, a 1,004 foot freighter that is owned by the Great Lakes fleet. It is too early to know what the last ship through will be as there are still many active freighters on Lake Superior and in the St. Mary’s River. We didn’t get to see as many freighters as we have in past years but we did have a few great visits to Mackinaw City, a busy couple of days in Sault Ste. Marie, and a day of shipwatching from Detroit to Port Huron. We can’t wait for the 2024 season to kick off so we can start following these big boats again! Below are some of our favorite freighter photos (and other ships) from 2023: