The Tower of History – Great Views of Sault Ste. Marie From 210 Feet Above It
Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a town full of history, dating back to its founding in 1668. There are many interesting sites to visit, and a great place to start is the Tower of History on Portage Ave., which takes visitors 210 feet up for amazing panoramic views of the city, the Soo Locks, the St. Mary’s River and the Canadian shoreline.
The Tower of History is located next to the Holy Name of Mary Pro-Cathedral, a beautiful church built in the Gothic Revival style. This is the fifth church building for this parish, which is the third oldest in the United States. The parish built the tower in 1968 with hopes of making it a shrine to the missionaries who helped settle the area, but priorities changed and the plans for the original complex were scrapped. The tower is now part of Soo Historic Sites (which also includes the Museum Ship Valley Camp and River of History Museum), with the church still benefitting from some of the proceeds.
The lower level of the tower is a museum featuring many historical photos and other information of the early years in Sault Ste. Marie. An elevator takes visitors to the top for great views, with the St. Mary’s River north, downtown to the west, Sugar Island to the east and the campus of Lake Superior State University to the southwest. Some of the more interesting things that can be seen from the tower are:
Museum Ship Valley Camp – a former Great Lakes freighter that is open for tours. Adjacent to Historic Water St., which features three of the oldest houses in the state: Elmwood, Bishop Baraga House and John Johnston House.
International Bridge – connects Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, United States with Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. What remains of the St. Mary’s Rapids can be seen downstream.
Cloverland Electric Cooperative Hydroelectric Plant – provides one-fifth of the eastern Upper Peninsula’s power. Historic building was constructed of steel and red sandstone in 1902. At that time, it was the second largest facility after Niagara Falls.
Frying Pan Island Lighthouse and U.S. Coast Guard Station – a beacon that once guided mariners past a small island near DeTour was moved here in 1988.
The Tower of History is located at 326 E. Portage Ave., just east of downtown and the Soo Locks. For information on hours and admission prices, visit http://www.saulthistoricsites.com/tower-of-history/. Timing your visit with a passing freighter can make for an even more memorable time.