1855 : Soo Canal Completed

May 31, 2018 all-day

The Soo Locks in the 19th Century

On May 31, 1855, the Soo Canal between Lake Huron and Lake Superior was completed after two years of construction. It was considered one of the greatest engineering feats of the era, having cost just under $1 million, which is comparable to $34 million today.

The one-mile canal enabled ships to conquer the rapids to travel between Lakes Huron and Superior despite the 22-foot difference in elevation. The first ship to pass through, the Illinois, made the trip the following month. The canal was officially sanctioned by the state of Michigan under its first governor, Stevens T. Mason.

Source: Michigan Every Day

For more information, see Walter Havighurst, “The Way To The Big Sea Water”, American Heritage, Volume 6, Issue 3, April 1955. A century ago the Soo canal was an insignificant ditch in a remote northern wilderness. Today it serves as the busiest industrial highway on earth.

Walden Fawcett, “Soo Canal Saulte Ste. Marie”, Digital History Project, May 1, 2012. Originally published in Munsey’s Magazine. March 1900

David Warner, “Northern Michigan History: When the Soo Locks Readied for World War II”, MyNorth.com, March 25, 2012. Northern Michigan History: German U-boats torpedoing the Soo Locks? During WWII, the threat seemed real enough. Here’s the Upper Peninsula’s wartime story. This article was originally featured in the March 2012 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.

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