Sunday, March 03, 2019

Niagara's Welland Canal in winter

Floating traffic through the Welland Canal grinds to a halt during the cold, winter months as ice tends to interfere with the free and safe movement of the massive freighters. Water levels in many of the sections are at a minimum and it is interesting to see the slim channel where the boats would pass by during boating season. In some places they have tire bumpers to keep the ships safe from grounding.
Rubber tire bumpers would be partially submerged in the summer
The 8 locks of the Welland Canal join with the 7 locks along the St Lawrence River to connect North America's Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean and is known as the H2O Highway. From the top of Lake Superior to sea level provides a vertical grade change of 183m. The Welland locks are necessary to allow the ships to navigate the changes in elevation found along the 43.5km route and bypass Niagara Falls. The Welland locks fill and empty with approximately 91 million litres of water, all of it supplied by gravity between Port Colborne on Lake Erie to Port Weller on Lake Ontario.
Lock 3 beside the museum
The current canal (the 4th built from 1913-1932) is taking advantage of the off season to work on Lock 7 in Thorold and the lock is almost empty of water as they undertake the construction. The only ships we saw were docked at the Port Weller dry docks near Port Dalhousie. Viewing points are available along the route and you can spend some time at the St Catherines Museum at Lock 3 where ship schedules are posted on the digital signboards.
Port Weller dry dock

See more of the canal and the museum after the jump.

Water under pressure from upstream pushes to the surface

H2O sign

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