January 15th the last freighter will pass through the Soo Locks for the shipping season; then the real work begins! Every five years the locks have to be dewatered and inspected. In 2018 was not one of those years but we have rounded up some great photos from past years showing what happens. Stop by the Locks this winter 2019 though, they will be dewatering BOTH Locks!

USACE Divers are a critical part of the dewatering process, opening underwater valves, inspecting drains and plugging leaks in the stop logs. 

The Paul Bunyan barge and the Whitefish Bay tugboat are working to put the stop logs in place.


The Paul Bunyan barge needed a little help getting this log lined up with the slots in the lock wall.

Once the lock is empty equipment can be lowered in the dewatered MacArthur Lock (looking west from the floor of the lock).

Crowbars, shims, and a lot of brute force was needed to get the pintle (bolt) base out from under the gate.

Once the work is done the water is let back into the lock.

Even if it’s not a dewatering year, the hard-working men and women of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are doing maintenance work on the Soo Locks during the winter. The observation deck will be closed but you’re always welcome to visit the Soo Locks Park 9am-6pm daily and watch the work. Show your appreciation for all their hard work by sharing this blog on your Facebook or Twitter using #ilovethesoo. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more stories on the city you love so much!

Thank you to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Soo Locks for the assistance and photos for this blog. See more U.S. Army Corp of Engineers photos here