From Montreal to Minnesota, by Inland Sea
Category: Fields and StreamsVia: community • 7 years ago • 22 comments
The waiting room at St. Lambert Lock in Montreal looks out at a quarter-mile of chain-link fence, six security camera towers, a blaze-orange derrick and a guardhouse. There, three armed men stare at a 750-foot stretch of placid, blue-green water waiting to lift 33,000-ton freighters up along the St. Lawrence Seaway .
The lock is part of the oldest and most traveled inland waterway in America — a 2,300-mile corridor that connects the Atlantic Ocean with all five Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Since deep draft navigation opened on the St. Lawrence in 1959, more than two and a half billion tons of cargo, worth around $375 billion, have traversed the seaway.
I’d been waiting 20 minutes for my ride — a 740-foot freighter called the Algoma Equinox. The Equinox traverses the St. Lawrence and four Great Lakes twice a month, transporting iron ore west and grain back east. Like many freighters around the world, it also occasionally carries people. Travelers willing to take the slow boat get a private cabin, three meals a day and shore leave wherever the ship loads, unloads or stops at a lock.
After picking me up in Montreal, the Equinox’s captain, Ross Armstrong, told me the ship would cross Lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron and Superior and drop me in Thunder Bay, Ontario — six hours north of Duluth, Minn. The trip would take six days.