USACE Detroit District invites all to Virtual Visitor Center series

SAULT STE. MARIE – The US Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District park rangers continue their Virtual Visitor Center series with monthly programs scheduled through April.

“We created the virtual visitor center in May 2020 when our facilities were closed due to COVID-19 so we can continue our mission of informing, educating and hopefully entertaining the public,” said Michelle Briggs, Chief Park Ranger at the Soo Locks, in a press release. “These programs have helped us reach people who may not be able to visit our sites in person and they have proven so popular that we continue to offer them.”

According to Carrie Fox, public affairs specialist with the US Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, an average of 50 to 80 people attend the live virtual programs. After posting the videos on YouTube and Facebook, the videos received several thousand views, sometimes over 10,000.

Briggs added that this year the park rangers’ workload in the Detroit District increased as the visitor centers reopened to the public, causing them to rethink the previous schedule. In order to cope with daily work and provide a high quality educational program, the rangers offer programs every first Thursday of the month at 12.30pm from October to April.

The speakers will be a mix of park rangers and special guests who will focus on topics related to shipping and the history of the Great Lakes:

  • October 7th – Ranger Scott Bjorklund “A great experiment: McDougalls Whalebacks”
  • Nov. 4th – Guest Fred Stonehouse “Sailing into legend – the most amazing shipwrecks in the Great Lakes”
  • Dec. 2 – Ranger Jeanette Johnson “Cruising the Great Lakes: The Golden Age of Passenger Ships”
  • January 6, 2022 – “Digging holes in the harbor: what to do with the dirt?”
  • February 3, 2022 – “Great Lakes Galleys”
  • March 3, 2022 – Ranger Michelle Briggs “Winter Work on the Soo Locks”
  • April 7, 2022 – Ranger Sara Summers Lüdtke “Vessel Namesakes”

All programs are hosted on the Detroit District Facebook page and will be recorded and posted on social media and on the Detroit District US Army Corps of Engineers YouTube channel at

“Audiences can ask questions during the live programming,” Fox said in an email. “The audience can ask questions during the program via a chat function. Sometimes the speakers answer them in real time, but generally questions are answered at the end. Viewers can also post comments on our YouTube videos. ”

Fox added that in hosting this series of events, the park rangers worked closely with the Soo Locks Visitor Center Association and the Lake Superior Marine Museum Association, as well as special guest speakers, to develop programs for virtual visitors. The park rangers also produce the promotional materials for the programs and analyze survey results and other feedback.

The Virtual Visitor Center is a collaboration made possible by the support of the Soo Locks Visitor Center Association, the Lake Superior Marine Museum Association, and the Detroit District park rangers.

In addition to the Great Lakes region, Fox said viewers from across the country and Canada are turning on the videos, which she described as “exciting” as it reaches people who may not be able to physically visit.

“Without the support of our cooperating associations who pay for the online platform we use, we would not be able to offer these programs,” Fox said in an email. “The Soo Locks Visitor Center Association and the Lake Superior Marine Museum Association are 501 (c) (3) agencies dedicated to supporting interpretive and special projects in the Detroit District Visitor Centers. We are grateful to these agencies and their supporters who help us to achieve our mission. ”

For more information on the US Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, visit or its Facebook page at

– Contact news reporter Taylor Worsham at [email protected]

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