Sunday, November 27, 2011

Breakfast and the St. Lawrence Seaway

Continuing with our late summer vacation, Laurie and I cruised into Massena New York, first planning on a late breakfast, stopping by the Remington Art Museum and then planning to visit the Eisenhower Locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway.  The Remington Museum was closed for the day so it was on to breakfast!

For breakfast, we stumbled across the Phillips Diner near downtown Massena.  It looked and felt like a real diner and it was busy…key traits that we look for when searching for something to eat.  Using an $80,000 Main Street Grant, Phillips façade, roof, sign, doors, etc. were totally rebuilt right after the Labor Day weekend. 

This is the interior of the restaurant.  The photo was taken from our booth.  This is definitely a local joint!  Everybody knew someone and the waitresses knew everyone…

We went with the basics.  Laurie had 2 eggs over easy with toast and bacon.  Good bacon always makes her breakfast right…and she liked this bacon!

I also got 2 eggs over easy with toast…but can you believe that my breakfast came with four (4) sausage patties!  We enjoyed our breakfasts… Although I can’t remember the pricing, it was very reasonable.

I did go on line and I noted some negative comments about this restaurant.  They mostly pertained to the changes in the Poutine they serve and the current use of canned products instead of homemade. (The founder had used homemade products)  Another complaint referred to a hateful waitress.  Breakfast is breakfast…canned goods aren’t usually involved and our waitress was just fine.
For those of you who don’t know about Poutine, just go to  
Phillips Diner was founded in 1948 and it’s still being run by the same family.  It’s located at 415 Ford Street in Massena New York.  Phone: 315-393-9738.  Apparently, they don’t have a website.

So next it was on to the Eisenhower Lock on the St. Lawrence Seaway.  This lock is one of only 2 on the American side of the Seaway and it’s the only one open for public viewing.  This is the Algowood, one of several ships plying their trade on the Great Lakes and beyond from Algoma Shipping, Inc.

The Algowood is entering the lock from the Wiley-Dondero Canal on its way west to Lake St. Lawrence, the Thousand Islands and Lake Ontario. 

I ‘borrowed’ this photo from Wikipedia.  This is an arial view of the Eisenhower Lock.  The lock can accommodate ships up to 740’ in length.  This lock and the St. Lawrence Seaway were completed in 1959, and on April 25th of that year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth presided over the dedication of the St. Lawrence Seaway System.

The Seaway is now outdated.  Only about 10% of the ocean going cargo ships or tankers sailing today are small enough to fit through the locking system. In addition, “Lakers”, ships like the Algowood or the one shown above in the lock, have been limited in size by the length, width and depth of the locks. 

The Algowood is a self-unloading bulk carrier and she was built in Collingwood Ontario by Collingwood Shipbuilders, Inc.  The Algowood was compled in 1981, she has 2 5,100 HP engines, can carry 31,750 tons of product and she cruised along at about 13 knots.  The ship is fairly unusual in that she was built with a bulbous bow so she can operate in early winter and early spring when there is still a little ice around.

In this photo the ship has been raised up 38’ to the next level of Lake St. Lawrence and the westbound Seaway.  Her screws are churning in an effort to get her moving forward.

The St. Lawrence Seaway System cost Canadians a total of $336.5 million and Americans paid $133.8 million.  At it’s peak back in 1965, the Seaway experienced 10,558 ship transits up or down the system.  In 2010, that count was down to 3,925 transits.  

This is the Algowood leaving the Eisenhower Lock steaming west toward the Great Lakes and whatever port was her final destination.  In it’s lifetime, the Algowood has had 2 major accidents.  She ran aground on a rock shoal in the Ste. Mary’s River near Sault Ste. Marie.  She’s also suffered a hull breach and sunk at dockside while taking on cargo.

There have been 2 notable downsides to the Seaway and it’s related power system.  For one thing, over 6,500 people were displaced when the dams were built.  The other problem is that zebra mussels hitchhiked on oceangoing ships and they are now doing considerable damage to the Great Lakes fisheries and to various municipal water intake facilities. 
The visitor’s center at the Eisenhower Lock is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day.  Times are posted for any ships passing through the locks each day. 
Curiously, you do have to pass through a very laid back secuity checkpoint to reach the viewing platform.  From a Homeland Security standpoint, this doesn’t make much sense when you consider that there is an unrestricted tunnel that passses directly underneath the lock itself.  That’s where real damage could be done… That’s our government at work!
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. Those ships sure seem to use every available inch of the lock width.

  2. I should be ashamed to admit it, but I always feel cheated when museums are closed the day I am visiting. I'm really spoiled. Judging from the pictures though you really were able to see a lot. I hope you had a great holiday. Blessings...Mary