Winter Work at the Soo

A worker uses a propane torch to remove ice from an oak timber before it is installed on the canal wall. These fenders protect the lock wall and vessel hulls when boats approach the locks.
A worker on a scaffold hanging over the frozen river cuts the bolts holding fender timbers in place on the canal wall. The walls of the approach canals and lock gates are lined with these protective fenders.
Bright blue skies are reflected in the sheen of water on the floor of the MacArthur Lock as the final water is removed. The lock will be inspected and major maintenance projects will be done through the winter.
A view of the nearly empty MacArthur Lock from the top of the stop logs at the upper end. From this angle the gate sills and gates are visible as well as one of the filling ports at the lower right side.

Every year the Soo Locks are scheduled to close January 15 and re-open March 25. During this 10-week period, workers conduct preventative maintenance, replace worn components and inspect the locks. Often, when a lock is dewatered, it doubles as a dry dock for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers vessels allowing their hulls to be inspected and repaired.