Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Agawa Canyon Tour Train’

Explore Canadian Wilderness on Agawa Canyon Tour Train

Agawa Canyon Train

Agawa Canyon Train

Want to spend a day in the wilderness? The Agawa Canyon Tour Train will fulfill that desire. Starting early in the morning, passengers board for a one-day rail adventure that leads to the beautiful Agawa Canyon in the heart of the Canadian wilderness.

In the upper peninsula of Michigan, Sault Ste Marie is the place to begin. You will first cross the International Bridge into Ontario, Canada where you board the all-day excursion to the back country of Canada. Everyone settles in to watch the scenic view pass by the  large windows of the excursion train. Lakes, waterfalls, and many pines give a feast to the eyes as mile after mile of this 228 mile journey relaxes your mind. A knowledgeable tour guide delights travelers with stories of local history, Ojibway, fur traders and explorers. For breathtaking views along the way, monitors throughout the coaches are connected to a camera mounted on the front of the engine.

School children wave to the Agawa Canyon Train.

School children wave to the Agawa Canyon Train.

Around nine o’clock, the train gives a whistle as it passes the elementary school where students line the track waving to the Agawa Canyon Tour Train. The guide said the children look forward to this break in the morning, while the teacher attempts to involve them in the history of their area.

Although this is a wilderness area, some people still live here. Every few miles the train will stop at a small depot to leave mail and packages. Once in a while, a passenger might board for a ride farther into or out of the canyon. Locals are accustomed to the arrival of the train as the tracks were laid in the canyon during the winter of 1911-1912.

Towering trestles provide spectacular views of the valleys below and once in a while you can catch a glimpse of the end of the train as it curves around the valley walls. It is thought that Agawa Canyon was created from a fault, which occurred over a billion years ago.

Waterfalls at Agawa Canyon Park

Waterfalls at Agawa Canyon Park

At the farthest end of the tour, the train sweeps down to the floor of the canyon stopping at Canyon Park. There are only two ways to reach this spectacular park area : by train or hiking. Great views of the waterfalls appear from the canyon floor, so this is the perfect time to stretch your legs and do a little exploring. The Overlook is a great place for breathtaking pictures while the train stops for about an hour.  As you might imagine, there is a Souvenir Car here in case you want to purchase a special memory of the excursion.

As you get closer to Agawa River you notice that the color is rather unusual. It has a near rusty color caused by staining of tannic acid, which comes from the roots and bark of the many cedar trees in the area.

Agawa Canyon Overlook

Agawa Canyon Overlook

A box lunch on the way back settles everyone in their turned around seats to enjoy the scenery from another direction. Although many small animals live in this area, none were seen on this particular trip. The larger ones have two reasons for avoiding the canyon: the walls are too steep and the train is too loud. This is truly a day for relaxation and visiting with friends and new acquaintances.

For those who enjoy the sound and feel of a train ride,  Agawa Canyon Train Tour is a great, relaxing experience.As David P Morgan said, “Things that move are a lot more exciting than things that stand still.” I agree!

Agawa Canyon Tour Train can be reached in Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario across the International Bridge from Michigan. Boarding takes place at Bay Street along the St. Mary’s River. The train runs from June – October on its regular daily runs. However, the Snow Train operates only on Saturdays from late January until early March. Check ahead for changes in schedule.

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Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan “The Rapids of St. Mary”

The roaring river of St Mary’s separates the twin cities,  Sault Ste Marie, Ontario and Sault Ste Marie, Michigan on the northwestern tip of the UP of Michigan.  The International Bridge takes road traffic over the St Mary’s River, which is the connecting river between two of the Great Lakes:  Lake Superior to Lake Huron.

Soo LocksThis is home to The Soo Canal, the longest locking system in the world, commonly called “The Soo” by locals. A stop at the Information Center gives you additional information regarding the magnitude of the locks and their importance to shipping in the Great Lakes Region.  Through The Soo, it is possible to watch very large ships being lifted or dropped 21′ as they go through the rapids from lake to lake. Two of the ships being moved this particular day were the S S Atlanta Huron, a bulk Canadian freighter measuring 736′ X 76′, and Lee A Tregurtha, an original WWII tanker now sailing for over sixty years,measuring even larger at 826′ X 75′.

Tower of HistoryIt was fascinating to watch the ships being moved and there were several vantage points.  A nearby tower provided an overview of the area, while it was also possible to watch the ships from the dock area – nearly close enough to touch them.

The Tower of History also gave great overviews of the city as well as the locks. Built in 1969 by the Catholic Church, its purpose was to tell the history of the early missionaries. Today the story of Native Americans as well as the early missionaries is told with pictures, films and displays. 2000 years ago the Native American Indians gathered near the waters here due to the abundant supply of fish and furs. The Tower of History is 210′ high with outside balconies to make viewing a pleasure.  Since it was a very windy day, it was advised that visitors not go to the top. But that was just a challenge and proved quite scenic.

Agawa Canyon FallsThe following day, an early morning train, Agawa Canyon Tour Train, left Sault Ste Marie on the Canadian side. The round trip of 228 miles over towering trestles into the Canadian wilderness provided a scenic view including many lakes, waterfalls and pines.  At the farthest end of the tour, the train sweeps down into Agawa Canyon with a stop at Canyon Park, home to many beautiful waterfalls.

Before leaving Sault Ste Marie the next day, visited the Museum Ship Valley Camp, an actual retired ship. The S.S. Valley Camp was built in 1917 by a shipbuilding company in Lorain, Ohio. It is possible to walk not only the decks, but also visit the living quarters and explore inside from top to bottom. Valley Camp once had a crew of 29 men, so is the perfect place to display lifestyle of the Great Lakes’ sailors. From the more luxurious Captain’s Quarters to the rather plain cabins of the Oilers and Coal Passers, visitors receive a true glimpse into how they lived and worked onboard.

Museum Ship Valley CampA museum with over a hundred exhibits exists inside Valley Camp. Many items are displayed that have been recovered from sunken ships in the Great Lakes. An attractive aquarium features many of the fish who swim in the St Mary’s waters.

Sault Ste Marie does not claim to be tourist country, but it certainly holds many interesting pieces of the past for the curious to explore.

To reach Sault Ste Marie on the US side, take I-75 North to its end. 

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