Michigan, Part II the soo locks We took a boat tour of the Soo Locks while in Michigan. They are on the St. Mary River between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes. They bypass the rapids of the river which drops 21′. One of the many large ships that use these locks. These tug boats are sometimes used to help ships get through the locks. Approaching the two parallel locks. They were originally opened in 1855 and are still in service! More than 10,000 ships pass through these locks during the shipping season each year. The season lasts usually from April through December. They are named after the two cities Sault Ste Marie in Canada and Michigan. (The “Soo” name is shortened and anglicized from Sault) As we approach the lock gates open. Once inside the lock you can see how big they are. Each lock is 1200′ long, 110′ wide and 39′ deep. When originally built they were 800′ long and 100′ wide but were rebuilt in 1968 to accommodate the much larger ships. They’ve been maintained and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers since 1896! We entered the locks from Lake Huron so once the gates were secured they flooded the lock to raise us up 21′ to the level of Lake Michigan. That process took less than 15 minutes! They keep the ships tied on both sides so it stays centered in the lock. Once at the same level as Lake Michigan, they open that end of the lock so we can proceed. It’s an amazing thing to watch and pretty cool to be on a boat in the locks! This was a large cargo ship going the other way in the parallel lock. This is huge rolls of steel ready to be shipped on the Canadian side. Steel mills on the Canadian side. After our short tour of Lake Michigan we returned to the locks to get back to Lake Huron. That’s Lake Huron on the other side of the lock, 21′ lower. That’s Canada on your left, Michigan on your right. If you look closely, you can see we have a few visitors in our lock; ducks! Luckily they were smart enough to stay out of the way of the huge steel gates when they opened! We are back down on Lake Huron. Here comes another ship towards the locks, this is a busy place! Near the locks, there is also a large hydro electric plant that uses the river for power. the henry ford museum in dearborn Since we were so close I had to see the Ford Museum in Dearborn! As it turns out, it’s so huge we spent two days there! There’s the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village and the Rouge Ford Plant Tour where you see the F-150 in production. This is the main lobby of the visitors center where they have a few of their most iconic cars on display plus a rolling chassis and drive train for the Ford F-150 Raptor. Ford F-150 chassis 1923 Model A Ford The F-150 Raptor 1949 Ford 2 door Sedan There is such an extensive collection of different types of transportation here it’s mind boggling! From trains to automobiles of all types and aircraft! This old steam engine was huge! I could barely get back far enough to get a side view even with an 18mm wide angle! Here’s the sideview; that’s all just the engine! There was a pretty cool model train layout in front of it too! Right next to the antique trains was this Bonneville Salt Flats race car. This was an old engine used to plow the snow so trains could get through in winter. Another much smaller steam engine. I tried out the driver’s seat! Hmmmm, I wonder which thing starts this sucker! One of Ford’s flops over the years. Now worth lots of money because so few were made! The first Bluebird school bus. 1960’s Desoto convertible I think. They also had several presidential limousines on display. This was FDR’s 1939 Lincoln convertible. This was the limousine that President John F. Kennedy was in when he was assassinated. After that tragedy they rebuilt it with a bulletproof top; too little too late! Notice the grab handle on the truck and the step on the side for the Secret Service? A little cheerier picture of their 1950’s diner with a few unique cars of the era . This was an experimental concept car. The goal was to design a car that would carry 4 people and get at least 100MPG. And, even though it’s a GM product, they showcased this 1961 Corvair. A 1956 Volkswagen Beetle. My parents bought two of these in early 1956. They traded in my dad’s 1955 Ford station wagon and bought a 1955 and a 1956 beetle. Probably the first two in North Canton, Ohio! Not everything was cars. Here is the 1975 FMC motorhome Charles Kuralt used in his “On The Road” with Charles Kuralt show. A 1960’s VW Van camper. I don’t believe they called them Westfalia yet then. This is a 1949 Airstream travel trailer. They don’t look much different now! One of the first campers built. This was built around 1912-1920 for the most adventurous ones! Not exactly “Glamping”! One for all my Jeep and off road friends; it had pretty humble (and i’m sure uncomfortable) beginnings! And a REAL Jeep! Ford’s latest race car with the original GT40 in the background. One example of the Wright Brothers original products; the bicycle. besides automobiles they had quite a collection of airplanes. Including of course the famous Ford TriMotor! A comparison of the size of the Ford TriMotor to a modern airliner. The luxurious cabin of the Ford TriMotor! Yes, Rattan seats and no seatbelts! FAA approved I’m sure! This was in Greenfield Village which is adjacent to the museum. it’s a complete village where the employees farm, run households and go about their daily chores as they would have in the early 1900’s. Very interesting to see! Herding the sheep. An old steam driven farm tractor. Steel wheels and no suspension; rough riding I’ll bet! They had the Wright Brothers original bicycle shop from Dayton, Ohio where they developed their infamous airplane. Their homemade wind tunnel where they experimented with different shapes of wings. The beginnings of their plane. Notice all the power tools in the shop run off of belts to a single motor. Henry Fords original Ford plant where he hand built the first Model T’s This is the 15 millionth Model T, all built here! That’s a cut-away of the very simple engine used in the Model T in the foreground. Edison’s shop where he developed his many inventions, notice the Edison light bulbs! They had a pottery shop where the employees made all sorts of pottery just as they would have back then; and pretty much how it’s still done today! The glass shop. We even got to ride in an original Model T like this one. It was actually pretty comfortable! Pretty slow, but better than a horse carriage! Armington & Son’s Machine Shop Notice here again all the machines are run off a single engine via a belt and pulley system. The village church with beautiful landscaping. One of the cool things that the Henry Ford Museum sponsors is the Henry Ford Charter High School. Here’s a statue of Henry Ford and a student commemorating that. On the second day we visited the Ford Rouge Plant where the F150 is assembled. Obviously no cameras were allowed on the tour but I got these few shots of the outside showing the paint plant in the distance where the bodies are assembled and painted, The green you see is plants installed to insulate the plant and act as air cleaners at the same time. Even the fumes from the paint plant are captured and used as fuel to run the plant; genius! The parking lot across the road is where employees who don’t drive Fords have to park; at least that’s what our guide told us! The plant tour was amazing. Lots of robots used in both assembly and inspections along the way. They average one completed truck off the line every 53 seconds! It takes approximately 20 hours to build one truck.