The Story of the St. Lawrence Seaway

many of the world's important cities and

towns are built close to water so the

chips can be used to bring people the

goods they need and take away the things

they have to sell

boy train more than three miles long

would be needed to fill up just one big

Laker like this with iron ore

heavy bulky goods can be carried to

distant factories at very low cost by


in the center of North America are the

Great Lakes they form the world's

largest and busiest inland waterway

system many places around the lakes have

grown into important industrial centers

because of the advantages of water

transportation for example the Detroit

Windsor area has become heavily

industrialised it can get iron ore from

the north and coal from the south

these are needed to make steel for cars

and machinery some of which are also

shipped to market by water the United

States and Canada share these great

inland seas from west to east the five

big lakes are superior Michigan Huron

Erie and Ontario the cent Lawrence River

connects them with the Atlantic Ocean of

the five lakes superior is not only the

largest its surface is also highest

above sea level water from the lake

flows down through the sent Marys River

into Lakes Michigan and Huron and on

into Lake Erie

then the water drops over Niagara Falls

into Lake Ontario more than 300 feet

below it drops another 250 feet in the

st. Lawrence River on its way to the sea

in the early days when people wanted to

get past these steep and rocky places

called Rapids they carried their light

birch bark canoes overland

but then settlers came in bigger boats

which were far too heavy to carry to let

these boats get past the rapids canals

with locks were built a lock is a kind

of elevator for ships

these early canals were built for very

small boats when bigger ships appear on

the lakes they couldn't get through and

the canals had to be enlarged building

canals was difficult and expensive at

Niagara a whole series of costly locks

was needed to form a water staircase but

finally they were canals around all the

rapids and falls in the Great Lakes at

the mouth of Lake Superior Rapids in the

Scent Marys River are bypassed by

several large locks built side-by-side

more cargo is shipped through these

locks than through any other canal in

the world

many of the Lakers carry prairie wheat

bound for overseas

others take iron ore the steel towns

fathered on the lakes between Lakes Erie

and Ontario are the Niagara Falls and

the Welland Canal which bypasses them

although ships cannot pass here the

rushing water is harnessed to make large

amounts of electric power and a few

miles away is the Welland Canal where a

ship can be raised or lowered

step-by-step more than 300 feet to get

past the Falls

but all the canals had not been built at

the same time along the st. Lawrence

there were many dangerous Rapids and the

canals were outmoded

these canals have been built many years

ago and ever since boats have had to be

kept small so they could squeeze their

way through shallow narrow locks late

each fall just before the waterways

began to freeze over there would be a

long lineup of these small boats waiting

to go through to their winter berths at

Montreal the old canals were a

bottleneck big lake boats couldn't get

through the canals to Montreal and large

ocean-going ships couldn't reach the

lakes only very small boats were able to

use these old canals a large modern

waterway was needed

that is why Canada and the United States

agreed after many discussions to create

a new canal system to benefit both

nations the st. Lawrence Seaway to build

it old canals and land would have to be

flooded by a new man-made lake Lakes and

Lawrence and a series of large new looks

would have to be built to in the United

States the rest in Canada the power of

the river would also be harnessed at two

large electric generating stations one

in Canada the other shared by both

countries work began in the summer of

1954 when Canada's Prime Minister turned

the first sod

Old Town's had to be destroyed or moved

for soon they might be hazards to the

great ships that would sail overhead in

the new Lake copper dams were built in

sections of the st. Lawrence to hold

back the water so that Werth could start

in the riverbed itself

then as the river was made to flow

around the construction site the

dried-up section of the riverbed was dug

away the river would have to be bridged

whole Islands moved out of the way and

brought new channels would have to be


when enough rock and earth had been

removed millions of tons of concrete

were born into the excavations

as this one giant locked up shake six

others like it and many miles of canals

were also being built along the river

finally the locks were ready each

broader than a superhighway longer than

a city block the distant cofferdam that

had been built to hold back the water

during construction was no longer needed

the old road and the farms alongside the

abandoned town sites and old church

yards would soon be under many people


Queen Elizabeth of Canada and President

Eisenhower of the United States open the

st. Lawrence Seaway Lynn have dreamed

and work two and a half centuries to

make this River navigable and now at

love the st. Lawrence Seaway presents to

the world a 23 hundred mile waterway of


lakes and man-made channels

now Lakers carry iron ore from west or

east to the steel mills of the Great

Lakes and from Lake Superior wheat goes

right through the ports like Montreal

now deep-sea ships can sail directly

across the oceans of the world to Lake

ports where they have never been before

to bring people the goods they need and

take away what they have made or grown

even people far from these busy ports

and waterways will benefit from this

great sea wave for ocean ships and giant


the Great Lakes and the Santa Lawrence

have long been important waterways but

now they have been linked into one great

water highway reaching from the Atlantic

Ocean 2,300 miles into the heart of the

North American continent