Every winter, in the middle of January, the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie close for around 8-10 weeks so that crews with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Detroit District can get in and clean out and repair the locks that help connect Great Lakes shipping traffic.  According to WXYZ in Detroit, the 2020 Shipping Season was due to close at 11:59 pm, on Friday, January 15th. Except that nothing in 2020 went quite as planned, including the timeline to close the Soo Locks.

The U.S. Corps of Engineers posted on their Facebook page that they kept the lock open just a little longer than planned so that the Walter J. McCarthy Jr., a 1,000-foot Freighter, could clear the locks and keep heading to its destination of Gary Indiana. The ship was carrying 70,107 tons of taconite or better known as iron ore pellets. The ship was scheduled to go into winter layup after it was unloaded.

According to MLive, there were a few ships that were getting loaded and setting sail from the western shore of Lake Superior, looking to make the January 15th, 11:59 pm cut-off. The Walter J. McCarthy was the last ship to cross from Lake Superior to the rest of the Great Lakes for the 2020 season.

The Soo Locks will now be closed until March 25, and crews will be getting to quite a list of cleaning and repairs that need to be done to keep ships traveling back and forth among Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes for the 2021 shipping season, MLive reports.


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