"Have you ever seen a ship climb a mountain?" In Thorold, Ontario you can watch this phenomenon actually happen! Visit the Lock 7 Viewing Complex to watch the ships sail over the Niagara Escarpment through the Welland Canal.
The Welland Canal is a ship canal that runs 42 km (27 miles) from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. As part of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the canal allows ships to avoid Niagara Falls by traversing the Niagara Escarpment. The Welland Canal has a total of eight locks. Locks four through seven are located in Canada's Most Patriotic City, Thorold.
Lock 7 is the highest point of the Canal system at 174.3 metres (572 feet) above sea level. That is the equivalent height to the top of Niagara Falls. Come watch a vessel squeeze into the lock, with only inches on each side; onlookers hold their breath with thoughts that she is going to get stuck. As she passes by the viewing area everyone looks up and up at the giant in front of them, only a metre away. You feel like you can reach over and touch it. The grandeur, right in front of your nose; it's like looking up at the almighty Titanic. These ships truly are a wonder of the waters!
When looking at Lock 7, there is a noticeable difference in comparison to the other locks in the Welland Canal. It is the Lock of the Future. On the eastern side of the lock walls, you can see big yellow humps protruding upwards. These humps are newly installed suction cups in the canal corridor. As technology advances, so does the Welland Canal. Now, when a vessel enters Lock 7, the suction cups grasp the vessel, so once in the lock it doesn't move around or bump the lock walls. The suction cups move up and down with the vessel, while raising or lowering within the lock. Now, this plan of the suction cups is only an experiment for the time. If it is a success, then the suction cups will be implemented in the other locks in upcoming years.
Once a vessel passes through Lock 7, it sails out north into the Twin Flight Locks. This is the most complex part of the Welland Canal System, where the magic happens! Locks 4, 5 and 6 make up the Twin Flight Locks. This is where the ships climb the mountainbecause this set of locks function like giant steps in a large flight of stairs. At this point, the locks will raise or lower a ship three times the distance as a regular lock, since this is where the Niagara Escarpment falls. It also allows for two-way traffic, so a vessel can be going upbound, at the same time that one is going downbound. The water levels always have to be correct, so the vessels can traverse the escarpment smoothly. It truly is an engineering masterpiece!
This is your opportunity to watch the ships climb the mountain, so join the team at Lock 7, listen to the roar of 23 million gallons of water pour into the lock and just simply be amazed.
From Lock 3: Turn left onto the the Welland Canal Parkway and continue on for about 7 minutes. (Optional - You can park at the Twin Flights.) Turn right on Chapel Street South and immediately right into Lock 7 viewing complex parking lot The drive is 3.7 km and about 7 minutes From Toronto: QEW to Highway 406 south and exit Pine Street Left on Pine Street Right on Richmond Street at lights and follow around bend Second right on Portland Street and follow to the end Left on Chapel Street Right into Lock 7 Viewing Complex parking lot, on the corner From Niagara Falls or Fort Erie: QEW exit Thorold Stone Road West Left onThorold Stone Road and follow through the Thorold Tunnel that goes under the Welland Canal Right first exit, Pine Street Right on Pine Street Right on Richmond Street at lights and follow around bend Second right on Portland Street and follow to the end Left on Chapel Street Right into Lock 7 Viewing Complex parking lot, on the corner Or, from Niagara Falls or Fort Erie:: QEW exit Glendale Avenue Left on Glendale Avenue and follow over Glendale Avenue Vertical Lift Bridge http://www.historicbridges.org/truss/glendale/ Once over bridge take first left onto the Welland Canal Parkway Follow the parkway until the very end and turn right onto Chapel Street South Lock 7 Viewing Complex is the building on the corner to your right Driving the scenic route from Highway 20: Take Highway 406 North and exit Beaverdams Road Right on Beaverdams Road and continue until Pine Street Left on Pine Street Right on Richmond Street at lights and follow around bend Second right on Portland Street and follow to the end Left on Chapel Street Right into Lock 7 Viewing Complex parking lot, on the corner
The Welland Canal is open for shipping late March - Christmas Week.
It runs 24 hours a day. January - March it is drained and closed for maintanance.
http://www.thewellandcanalsadvocate.ca/ - - "The Welland Canals Advocate Magazine" Fostering & promoting stewardship for Niagara's own Welland Canals Canal HistoryClipping Files. Welland Public Library. Revised April 2, 1973.