Sarnia The day started off nice enough. On top of all the rain they had already, they expected between 40 and 60mm more today. Big rail yards in Sarnia. Still running passenger service. Round house for power units. The St. Clair Tunnel goes under the river to the US. The first tunnel (to the left) was opened in 1891. Prior to the tunnel there was a bottleneck here with rail ferries. The original was an engineering marvel. They gnawed the tunnel from both ends at the same time and ended up with a continuous iron tube about 7,000 feet long. The tube had a diameter of just under 20 feet. At first they used steam but that was too dangerous (suffocation) so they went electric for the crossing. In 1995 they opened the new tunnel and closed the old one. The new tunnel was bored in a single direction. It is a little over 6,000 feet long and has a diameter of 27.5 feet so it can handle double stacked freight cars. 1907 postcard of the original tunnel. Steady rain. Lots of standing water about. Sarnia has a big industrial element. They have refineries that get oil via pipelines from Alberta. They have a big petrochemical industry that took off when WWII created a demand for synthetic rubber. This industrial complex is a big polluter (air and water). The chemical outfits also tap the salt deposits under the city to get chlorine. Canada deemed the industrial complex here so important to Canada's development that they put the image of a Sarnia refinery on the back of a ten dollar bill. This ship was built in Texas, loaded up with oil, and then sailed to the Great Lakes via the Welland Canal. With its twin fixed screws it can run almost 15 mph. It can carry liquid cargoes that range from gasoline to fertilizer. During her first winter on the Great Lakes she got stuck in the ice in Saginaw Bay. The Coasties had to come and bust her out. She hit a bridge once and messed up some ballast tanks. When she was unloading in Detroit a massive ice floe struck her and tore up both sides of her bow including some internal damage. Sarnia also has the world's largest photovoltaic power plant. I think it is up to about 97MW. This ship was built in Ontario. It was designed and built to handle coal (and iron ore). It has been run aground and has been banged up by a saltie (ocean going ship) when it was coming out of a lock. What is interesting about this ship is that it has a single variable pitch screw with some fancy tunnels in the hull that maximize performance. These guys seemed much happier than I was. The Blue Water Bridge. Jointly owned by two governments. When they built the first bridge, they had to keep the St Clair River open so they couldn't use floating platforms and the like. The bridge had to have 150 foot clearance for ships to pass. The first bridge opened in 1938. Over time, they had more demand than capacity so they put up a second bridge in 1997. Of course, they immediately refurbished the original bridge so traffic was still not so good. Together this pair of bridges is the second busiest crossing between the US and Canada with the Detroit-Windsor bridge crossing being the first. The 40 mile long St Clair River runs from Lake Huron to Lake Erie. There is a strong current whipping through here. At this spot the river is narrow and deep. Further down it widens out and slows down. The drop is only about five feet. During shipping season, this is one of the busiest waterways in the world with a ship passing on average about every seven minutes. To improve navigation, there has been some dredging and riverbed mining in the St Clair. By itself, that dropped the long term lake levels for Lakes Huron and Michigan by about 16 inches. Since then, unexpected erosion after the last major river project dropped that another 3 to 5 inches. The nearly two foot drop due to human intervention has some people calling for remediation to slow the flow of waters through the St Clair to restore former lake levels.