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How Do Ships Travel on the Great Lakes?


Maritime transport in our region is made possible by a system of connecting channels and waterways which allow ships to move among the five Great Lakes:

  • Superior
  • Michigan
  • Huron
  • Erie
  • Ontario

The Great Lakes are connected to the Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lawrence Seaway. Together, the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway form the largest surface water system on the planet. The total length from the furthest port, Duluth-Superior, to the Atlantic Ocean is 2,038 miles and requires a travel time of about 9 days.


More than 50 ports are located along the waterway, providing points of entry for both upbound and downbound cargos. Annually, approximately 4,000 ships pass through the St. Lawrence Seaway, carrying about $7 billion worth of commodities.
Great Lakes Port Map

EXPLORE: Explore Ports and Track Ships