It’s all downhill from here, so to speak. Today we crossed Balsam Lake. At about 600 feet above Lake Ontario it is the highest point of the Trent-Severn Waterway. From here we slide back down about 300 feet to Lake Huron, then let the rotation of the Earth push us west through Lake Superior to the Apostle Islands.
We are 71% through the T-S and are glad we took our time. The scenery is stunning, the towns cute and the people exceptionally friendly. We will be back to visit again.
Leaving Fenelon Falls in the rain, we motored west through some of the narrowest canals to date. Blasted out of solid rock, the banks are solid and unforgiving. The rocky bank shelf is visible to the right side of this photo.
Material removed to create the canal is stacked up along the canal, forming a tall berm.
Loons were our companions along the way, seeming much less shy than those we see in the Apostles.
The banks are dotted with tiny waterfalls.
The narrow channel does not leave much room for passing. We saw this fellow coming from 1/2 mile away, allowing time to chat on the radio. We established that each knew how to drive a boat and slid over to our respective sides for a very slow pass. Our starboard side was brushing the trees!
No clue. But cute.
The 16 mile, 2-lock day brought us to the Kirkfield Hydraulic Lift Lock. Very similar to the Peterborough Lock, this one let us down 49 feet rather than up 65. However, entering this lock was more exciting: we were driving Endeavor out into a tub suspended in space. The only thing separating us from a major boo-boo was the gate at her bow.
This gull rode down with us. Maybe they find it entertaining also.
When the lock was modernized, in the 1960’s, this tunnel under the canal was added…
… the ceiling of which is growing stalactites.
The lock controller sits between the lifts, high above the action.
The lock engineering is fascinating. Each tub (caisson) lowers into a dry well that is below river level.
The well gate has to keep the river out, then swing out and down to allow boats to enter or leave the caisson. When the gate is down the caisson seals the well.
Each caisson is lifted on a 7.5 foot diameter shaft that telescopes out of a casing sunk deep in the ground. The water pressure that drives the ram upward is held inside by 13 rings of packing (think massive o-rings). The Up caisson presses down on its ram, forcing water through a pipe connecting the two rams. A valve between the two controls the water flow.
We were curious about the stands laying on the well floor (above). They are used to support the caissons for maintenance. To stand them up, the crew loops the chains over the wood beam in the slot shown below. The caisson is then raised, pulling the stands to their feet. The caisson is then lowered onto the stand.
I was curious if the hydraulic system between the rams leaks. If so, when the heavier caisson reached bottom there might not be enough water in the rams to lift the other caisson to the top. The lock master told me that it does indeed leak and they have to pump in additional water every other lockage or so. While simple in concept, the locks are a very complex machine to manage.
The job was even more complicated prior to the 1960’s modernization. The system had no electronic controls and was operated with water pressure through valves and equipment like this intensifier pump.
The two hydraulic lift locks are amazing machines and have satisfied my inner nerdness.