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  • Writer's pictureKay

Big Chute

The penultimate finale to our voyage through the Trent-Severn Waterway was the Big Chute Marine Railway at Lock 44. We had been looking forward to it the entire Loop. Sitting on the eastern shore of Lake Huron and the waters of Georgian Bay, Big Chute is the only marine railway in North America. It was built in 1917, but the current lock was completed in 1978. Engineered originally to save money by eliminating the need to dynamite through solid rock, the Chute’s design later proved effective in preventing the transfer of sea lampreys, an invasive species of “vampire fish” from Lake Huron, to Lake Ontario via the Trent Severn.

Briefly, the Big Chute transports boats up to 100 feet long out of one body of water, up a hill, over a two-lane highway, and down the other side of the hill to another body of water at a different elevation. As we drew closer to the Big Chute, we heard rumors of transit delays caused by staffing shortages and Covid outbreaks at the lock which, unfortunately, turned out to be true. Adagio and 20 other large boats had to wait upstream from the lock for over a week before they let us through.

When our turn finally came, on July 12th, Charles guided Adagio into a 100-foot steel carriage resting on two sets of submerged tracks. The lock hands positioned the large slings inside the carriage under Adagio's hull to hold her steady as steel cables pulled the entire carriage up a slight incline and out of the water. We didn't even have to use our lines to tie up. While we chatted with the lock hands and took pictures, the carriage continued to remain level as it traveled over the highway at the top of the incline and then descended 65 feet down the other side to the next body of water. As the carriage entered the water, the slings fell away and Adagio began to float gently out of the lock and on to her next adventure.

Adagio Entering the Big Chute

At the Top of the Lock Looking Back

Boats Waiting Their Turn On the "Blue Line"

View From Friends on the Dinghy Locking Down With Us

Chatting with the Lockmasters

Starting Our Descent - Hoping the Cables Hold!

Adagio Leaving the Big Chute

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Jul 14, 2022

Amazing! What a journey! Many memories made! Love, Ruth

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