Why Soo Locks are so important to US economy: Unlocking value of engineering gem

Looking into past, present, future of American economic lifeblood

The MacArthur Lock is part of the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The Soo Locks see almost 90 percent of the world's iron ore go through them. Keith Dunlap/GMG.
The MacArthur Lock is part of the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The Soo Locks see almost 90 percent of the world's iron ore go through them. Keith Dunlap/GMG.

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – On the surface, it looks like way too small of a place and in way too remote of a location to have such a significant economic impact.

It’s also surrounded by ice for four to five months and closed over two months of the year for maintenance.

So again, why is this place, known as the Soo Locks, so important? Why did President Donald Trump in 2019 decide to earmark more than $75 million in his budget to a major construction project there?

Because without the Soo Locks, the U.S. economy would plunge into a deep recession.

Don’t take our word for it, though.

That's according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which, in 2016, released a report saying that just a six-month shutdown of the Soo Locks would result in 11 million lost jobs across the country.

It’s a similar situation to what’s transpired in Egypt over the last seven days, with global economists worried about ramifications after a ship got wedged and stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking other ships from getting through and certainly delaying deliveries of important goods.

In light of that, what exactly are the Soo Locks, and what function do they provide that's so vital to the U.S. economy?


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