Before the dawn of the automobile and the first-rate railroad, the Kentucky River was the primary route of access to locations in central Kentucky. At one point, the river was fully navigable from the Ohio River at Carrollton to Beattyville, with fourteen locks and dams providing safe passage for passengers and freight alike.1 In 1986, the Kentucky River Authority was established by the Kentucky General Assembly 2 to take over operation of locks 5 through 14 from the United States Corps of Engineers; they were subsequently closed and sealed with concrete barriers. Only the first four locks from Carrollton to Frankfort remain in operation.

Lock and Dam 6 is located at Oregon, and was constructed from 1888 to 1891.3 The dam supports a 21-mile long pool of water and is located 96 miles from the mouth of the Ohio River. Constructed originally of a timber crib structure, which consisted of an outside frame of timbers filled with dirt and rock with a lock built of stone masonry, a concrete overlay of the timber crib dam was completed in 1911.

In 1966, steel sheet pilings were driven upstream of the dam, and the upper slope was leveled off with new concrete.3 In 1983, repairs were completed when 22,000 tons of derrick stone were installed to help fill voids in the dam and to protect the far abutment. Eleven years later, the river guide wall was removed, and the downstream face voids were filled with a new concrete overlay. Derrick stone was placed below the dam.

In 2006, a cutoff wall was placed inside the lock, rendering it inoperable.4

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