St. Marys Falls Canal, photo ca. 1960
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Saint Mary's Falls Canal
Canal Park, Portage Avenue, Sault Ste. Marie - Chippewa County
Other Names Saint Marys Falls Ship Canal
Soo Locks Historic District
Soo Canals
Property Type locks
Historic Use DEFENSE/military facility
DOMESTIC/camp
GOVERNMENT/government office
GOVERNMENT/public works
INDUSTRY/PROCESSING/EXTRACTION/energy facility
RECREATION AND CULTURE/monument/marker
RECREATION AND CULTURE/outdoor recreation
TRANSPORTATION/water related
Current Use GOVERNMENT/government office
GOVERNMENT/public works
INDUSTRY/PROCESSING/EXTRACTION/energy facility
RECREATION AND CULTURE/monument/marker
RECREATION AND CULTURE/outdoor recreation
TRANSPORTATION/water related
Architect/Builder Edward Pearce Casey
Smith, Hinchman and Grylls
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Significant Person Jacques Marquette
Orlando M. Poe
Narrative Description The Soo Locks Historic District is located in Sault Ste. Marie, Chippewa County, Michigan in the St. Mary's River. It is located on approximately 156 acres north of Portage and Water Streets in Sault Ste. Marie, and is 600.0 ft above sea level (asl) at the upper gates of the locks, and 578.2 ft asl at the lower gates (USACOE, DD 1978:n.p.). The property contains four locks,a mooring basin, two railroad bridges, 75 buildings and 18 objects. The St. Mary's River connects Lake Superior and Lake Huron, which prior to construction of the ship canal, was unnaviagable due to the 22 ft drop in elevation at Sault Ste Marie. The locks provide a means of transportation for ships passing from Lake Superior to Lake Huron. The existing locks are the Davis (1914), the Sabin (1919), the MacArthur (1943), and the Poe (1968). The MacArthur Lock was built on the site of the Weitzel Lock (1881), and the Poe was built on the site of an earlier Poe Lock (1896), and also occupy the site of the original State Locks (1855).
Statement of Significance The Soo Locks Historic District is historically significant for many reasons. The property is important for its contribution to the industry and commerce of the United States by providing an inexpensive and convenient transportation route to and from the upper Great Lakes. The locks are also significant engineering feats, having required much time, organization, and capital investment to design and operate them. Several buildings on the locks property possess architectural significance for their continuity and elegance in design, as well as being the work of master architects. The history of hydroelectric power in the Soo Locks Historic District is also significant, as it is the site of a very early hydroelectric plant. The locks have also been an important tourist and recreational site since the first locks were constructed in 1855.
Period of Significance 1668-1969
Significant Date(s) 1881
1896
1897
1899
1905-1906
1914
1916
1917
1919
1931-32
1942
1943
1945
1946-53
1964
1969
1668
1750
1788
1820
1822
1837
1850
1853
1855
Registry Type(s) 11/13/1966 National Historic Landmark listed
11/13/1966 National Register listed
02/12/1959 State Register listed
Site ID# P91