Sault Sainte Marie, city (1990 pop. 14,689), seat of Chippewa co., N Mich., Upper Peninsula, a port of entry on the St. Marys River opposite Sault Ste Marie, Ont.; inc. as a city 1887. A variety of light manufactured goods are produced, but the city's economy is principally based on tourism and lake shipping. The famous "Soo" locks on the St. Marys River draw visitors who watch heavily laden ocean vessels and Great Lakes freighters pass through the intricate system that links lakes Superior and Huron. Particularly impressive is the 21-ft (6.4-m) lift to the level of Lake Superior. The region was first explored (1615) by Etienne Brulé, and Father Jacques Marquette established a Jesuit mission there in 1668. French occupation ended in 1763. The British remained in control until 1783, when the area was ceded to the United States. Fort Brady was built in 1822. The discovery of great mineral deposits in the northwest stimulated the construction (1853–55) of the Sault Ste Marie Canal to facilitate the flow of ore; the locks have since been enlarged. An international bridge connects Sault Ste Marie with its Canadian counterpart. Lake Superior State Univ. in the city occupies the historic site of Fort Brady.
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