Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

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Coordinates: 46°29′49″N 84°20′44″W / 46.496974°N 84.345474°W / 46.496974; -84.345474

Sault Ste. Marie (pronounced /ˌsuː seɪnt məˈriː/) is a city in and the county seat of Chippewa County in the U.S. state of Michigan.[1] It is in the eastern end of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, on the Canadian border, separated from its twin city of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, by the St. Marys River. The population was 16,542 at the 2000 census, making it the second most populous city in the Upper Peninsula.

Sault Ste. Marie is an ancient city, occupied by native Americans for at least five hundred years. In 1668, Father Jacques Marquette, having heard of the village, traveled there to found a mission. Sault Ste. Marie is the oldest European settlement in the US Midwest[2], including the state of Michigan. A fur trading settlement soon grew up at this crossroads on both banks of the river, making the area the center of the fur trade route of 3,000 miles (4,800 km) extending west from Montreal to the Sault, then to the country north of Lake Superior.[3]

The settlement was one community until 1817, when a US/UK Joint Boundary Commission finalized the border between Michigan Territory, USA and the British Province of Upper Canada. The American and Canadian communities were each formally incorporated as municipalities at the end of the nineteenth century.

Sault Sainte-Marie translates from French as "the Rapids of Saint Mary". The Saint Mary's River separates Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan from Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, as it joins Lake Superior to Lake Huron.

No hyphens are used in the English spelling, which is otherwise identical to the French - but the pronunciations differ, with Anglophones saying "Soo Saint Marie" while Francophones say "Soh Sent-Marie". In both languages, the name is frequently if not usually written "Sault Ste. Marie", hence the joke pronunciation - "Salt Stee Marie". On both sides of the border, the towns and the overall vicinity are called The Sault (usually pronounced "soo") or The Soo.

The two cities are joined by the International Bridge, which connects Interstate Highway 75 in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and Huron Street in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Shipping traffic in the Great Lakes system bypasses the rapids via the American Soo Locks, the world's busiest canal in terms of tonnage passing through it, while smaller recreational and tour boats use the Canadian Sault Ste. Marie Canal. The city's downtown sits on an island, with the locks to the north, and the Sault Ste. Marie Power Canal to the south.

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