Once a frontier outpost for Jesuit missionaries, fur traders, and explorers, Sault Ste. Marie at the border of the United States with Canada is the vital link between the rich resources of the Lake Superior region and the nation's industrial centers. In 1853, with a population of nearly 2,000, the city's future was transformed by the completion of the St. Mary's Falls Ship Canal ( CH5) in 1855. Its locks opened the lakes to shipping, ushering in a new age for transportation on the Great Lakes. Growth and prosperity led to the incorporation of the village of Sault Ste. Marie in 1874. Predictions at the turn of the twentieth century, however, that the Sault would become a national manufacturing center, were never fully realized.
Today, as it was at the time of its founding, the importance of St. Mary's River to the welfare of Sault Ste. Marie cannot be overestimated. This river has been an ever pervasive factor for this border city.
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