Behind the Scenes at the Welland Canal
By N. Schultheiss
During our recent gathering at the Welland Canal we had the unique opportunity to go behind the scenes and show the users of this web site what happens on the inside of canal operations.
The Welland Canal links Lake Ontario to Lake Erie. The canal is the gate way to the upper lakes allowing ships to by-pass Niagara Falls as they are lifted over the Niagara Escarpment.
The canal is a 27 mile long highway for ships that consists of a series of eight locks lifting or lowering a vessel a total of 326.5 feet between the lakes. Each lock is filled and emptied by water flowing from Lake Erie toward Lake Ontario
Ships up to 740 feet in length and 78-feet wide can pass through the canal with a draft loaded as deep as 26-feet 3-inches. Iron ore and grain are the most important commodities carried through the canal. A wide variety of other bulk products such as coal, cement and significant quantities of manufactured and packaged goods also contribute to the traffic on the Welland Canal.
Foreign ships from around the world use the canal, many carrying steel products manufactured outside North America. After unloading, their cargo holds are cleaned out and loaded with grain from the North American heartland for shipment overseas.
Our day started with a visit to the office of Captain Anil Soni, a Regional Ship Inspector/ Enforcement Officer employed with The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation is a not-for-profit Canadian corporation that is responsible for the safe and efficient movement of marine traffic through the Canadian Seaway facilities which consists of 13 of the 15 locks between Montreal and Lake Erie. Before our tour began he explained the Corporation's mission to pass ships through a safe and reliable waterway system in a cost-effective, efficient and environmentally-friendly manner and how this relates to the operations of the Welland Canal.
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