Northern Michigan in Focus: Re-Watering the MacArthur Lock

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Today we’re going to take you to a place and event not many people get to see and experience.

Corey Adkins takes you along in this week’s Northern Michigan in Focus.

There’s something about a waterfall that mesmerizes people.

Michigan is home to around 200 named falls, all but one in the U.P.

But on this day, one is created at the Soo Locks. 

“We are going to be re-watering the MacArthur Lock so we can be doing more maintenance work in the next few months on the gate four anchorages,” said Joanne Gray, chief of construction and technical support.

We’re going to back this story up a bit.

To re-water a lock isn’t easy. It takes a team, lots of planning and a huge crane.

The Army Corps of Engineers has the force of Lake Superior and the St. Marys River against the other side of the 32 ton stop logs.

“Well, the first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to take out the stop logs at the upper end of the locks that have been holding the water back, so we could have the lock re-water this winter for other maintenance that we needed a dry lock,” explained Joanne.

The corps hooks a lifting bar to the top stop log and lifts.

The crews at the locks work hard during the off season to get the locks ready for shipping.

You could almost consider it a reward for their work, but truth be told they need water in the Mac because there’s more to do.

“We have to put a differential head, so we need to work on gate four. We need to have more water on one side of the gate, then on the other side of the gate and that will hold the gate up while we work on the anchorages,” said Joanne.

They need to float a barge so they can check for leaks. But soon the Mac will be open and locking freighters.

“The goal is to have the Mac in good shape so we can open and have it operational through the entire season,” explained Joanne.

Categories: Northern Michigan In Focus