The Biloxi Mississippi Lighthouse at sunset on November 10, 2021. © Susan Alton, 2021

The Biloxi Mississippi Lighthouse at sunset on November 10, 2021. © Susan Alton, 2021
The Biloxi Mississippi Lighthouse at sunset on November 10, 2021. © Susan Alton, 2021

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Travel Day Along the St. Lawrence Seaway - Tuesday, July 30, 2019

On this trip, our timing seems to be impeccable. I don't know how we do it, but things work out for us.

First, our destination today is Wilmington, New York. This past weekend was the Ironman Triathlon in Lake Placid, one of the triathlons to qualify for the Ironman in Kona, Hawaii. The race was on Sunday. Many people stayed until yesterday to leave the area. We arrived today to a lot fewer crowds.

We had a couple of different routes we could take to Wilmington. One way was to take State Route 3 from Watertown through the Adirondack Mountains. The other way was along the St. Lawrence Seaway. We chose the latter in hopes of seeing a ship go through the locks at Dwight D. Eisenhower Lock. Bob had checked the shipping schedule, but he thought ships were about three hours away. We went anyway.

We left Clayton, New York at about 8:30 a.m. to drive along the St. Lawrence Seaway in New York. The highway had very little traffic, was mostly level, and had nice shoulders. But the best part of this drive is the scenery! Driving along the St. Lawrence Seaway is beautiful. We saw one big tanker heading upriver. There were bays and ponds and rivers all along the way. 

People we had talked to told us we needed to go under the lock in a tunnel to get to the north viewing area. So, when we drove up from the highway, we passed by the entrance to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Visitor Center and went through the tunnel. 

The entrance we missed. We didn't expect it
so quickly after we got on this road.
Through the 13' 6" tunnel (no problemo).
We got to the north viewing area and very quickly noticed that we could not get close to the lock, fences kept us out. A ship was at the entrance to the lock! 

We quickly took the 5th wheel back under the tunnel and made our way to the Eisenhower Visitor Center. As you can see in the photo below, the parking lot is almost completely empty. There were maybe five other vehicles there.

Rigamarole and Beauty in the Visitor Center lot.
When we walked up to the first building you see by the parking lot, the security guard came out and told us if the lot fills up we would have to move our rig. Bob said, "Oh, yes, of course." The guard told us a lot of times when people read that a ship is coming through the locks they race in and fill up the parking. But then he also said he doubted they'd get that many people on a weekday morning.

The guard was so concerned about our parking job, he didn't remember to check my bag. Crazy.

Anyway, Bob and I had a big laugh about the lot filling up. There were more birds in the lot than cars.

We made it to the viewing platform in time to see the ship pull into the lock. The ship would rise up 40 feet. It took about 30 minutes from the time the ship pulled in until it was raised up and left the lock heading upriver.

The ship nestled 40' down in the lock.
And here she is up at river level.
A close up showing how big this thing is.
The ship is the Algoma Harvester on a return trip to Canada to pick up iron ore. We saw some huge factories on the Canadian side of the river, but we don't know what was being made in them.

The ship is underway now.
In addition to watching the ship go through the lock, you could check out a couple of outside displays, and a Visitor Center with a 20-minute movie narrated by Walter Cronkite about how they made the St. Lawrence River navigable for large ships; however, the supertankers being built today will not fit through these locks. 

The valves that let water into the lock.

A map of the seaway system from the Great Lakes
to the Atlantic Ocean.
The display below is pretty interesting. The bottles contain samples of the 30 principal cargoes shipped via the seaway.

The shipping channel buoys and my boy.
After watching the movie, we checked out the gift shop (didn't buy anything). Then we had a lunch consisting of chicken salad sandwiches, macaroni salad, and cherries in the 5th wheel. We weren't fighting traffic in that parking lot! It was even emptier when we left.

Thunderstorms were brewing just west of us and it was time to skedaddle to Wilmington, New York. The roads through the mountains were fine; no steep grades or sharp curves. From Massena, New York, we took Hwy 37, to Hwy 30, to Hwy 86 through Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. We did get a really heavy downpour along our way. It didn't last too long.

It was pretty hairy hauling the 5th wheel through Lake Placid which was chock full of pedestrians, a long, narrow main street, semi delivery trucks blocking lanes, and people who didn't know how to parallel park their trucks and were sticking out into the street. But Bob navigated the truck-infested streets with aplomb. We made it safely through the maze.

The Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain KOA is huge! We have a pull-through site in a grove of trees. There is no grass around, just lots of forest floor dirt/sand. At least it's dry and level.

Over the next three days, we plan to go to Ausable Chasm (waterfalls), High Falls Gorge, Roaring Brook Falls, Beaver Meadow Falls, Rainbow Falls, Stag Brook Falls, drive Veterans Highway to the top of Whiteface Mountain, and do a 10k Volksmarch in Lake Placid. 

Life is good.


  1. Timing is everything. We used to (1980's) vacation in that area, I can only imagine how crazy it was getting the rv through Lake Placid. Enjoy!

    1. Did you ever stay at the Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain KOA? It's quite a campground. We are loving the area! What a place to vacation.

  2. Replies
    1. As we are finding out. I feel like there's so much we're missing because we don't have enough time here. We did make it to the Cape Vincent Lighthouse which we enjoyed.


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