The Great Lakes Shipping Season Begins

The Joseph L. Block, which spent winter layup in Sturgeon Bay at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, earned the distinction of being the first freighter to go through the Poe Lock in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, to mark the beginning of the 2024 Great Lakes shipping season. The Soo Locks – which connect Lakes Superior and Huron by raising and lowering boats by gravity feed between the levels of Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes – opened the Poe Lock to all marine traffic at 6 pm, March 22. The opening was three days earlier than usual at the request of the shipping industry, which requested the early-season opening due to the urging of major steel producers, according to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Detroit District. Local Door County residents David and Rosann Hollinger – and frequent photography contributors to the Peninsula Pulse – followed the Block as she departed from her winter layup at the Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding yard on March 20, as can be seen above. The Block not only over-wintered at the Sturgeon Bay yard, it was built by Bay Shipbuilding. Text by Debra Fitzgerald. Photo by David Hollinger.