The Stewart J. Cort, a 1,000-foot freighter was the first vessel to go through the Soo Locks, officially kicking off the 2019 Great Lakes navigation season at 12:01am on March 25th. The ship was met by fans gathered near the huge lock system in Sault Ste. Marie as the vessel pulled into the Poe Lock, which handles all the big freighters upbound for Lake Superior. This marks the official launch of the 2019 season, but also the reopening of the locks, which had been closed for its annual winter maintenance work since late January, a process which sees more than 73 million gallons of water drained from the Poe and MacArthur locks for cleaning. Less than a week ago, three Coast Guard cutters from the U.S. and Canada were the first vessels to go through the lock into Lake Superior, where they began breaking up ice so freighters could start making their way through.