<< chicago


Niagara Locks Experience

Boats and ships that travel between the two great lakes (Erie and Ontario) that are connected by Niagara Falls travel upstream and down through a man made river managed by a series of Locks.

Locks use the natural rivers flow to fill up and empty enormous pools that ships ride in. Above are a pair of gates that hold back huge amounts of water when closed.

We climbed to the top of these stairs to witness the fast paced action!

Okay. There's really no 'action'. The water actually moves pretty slow and the ships rise and lower slowly and are moved between locks at a snails pace.

Seems that they do a traffic thing were ships going one way stay on one side. At least the two ships and one boat we witnessed stayed true to this traffic flow.

On the right of this picture is a large ship being lifted. On the left is one being lowered.

This succession of pictures shows the movement of the ships. Watch very carefully or you may miss the 'action'.

The ship on the right has a full tank so the gates in front of him open up and he moves on to the next set of locks eventually ending up in Lake Erie.

The ship on the left continues to lower until his tank is empty where he can move on to the next lock below.

And it starts over again - lowering and raising. Raising and lowering. Really fascinating - once. This ship is heading towards Lake Ontario. Notice the stern (back) of the little yacht in the picture above (lower right).

It was really hard to capture in a photo how tiny this yacht looks like in these lock pools. Notice the rope the fella on the bow (front) of the yacht has. It was dropped to him by a lock worker and a woman on  the back was also holding a rope.

The current in the lock pool rocks and pulls on this 'little' yacht quite a bit. The Captain had to use his bow and stern thrusters quite a bit to keep the yacht from banging on the wall or yanking the ropes out of his crew's hands. Not what we'd consider a relaxing day on the boat. These people were working it. Check out the lock dam in front of the yacht. It was holding back water all the way to the top and the water was leaking out the middle all the way down. It was really creepy for us to see that little yacht in front of that massive wall of water.

And on to do it again. 

Each ascent and descent seemed to take about 30-45 minutes. The ships didn't seem to have to do anything but tie up - the yacht was fighting the current created by the flooding of the pool the whole time.

Sunny had enough about 30 minutes into our two-hour plus locks experience. Join us next month for our turtle crossing the road experience!


>> August '03