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 No. 8 is located near Camp Nelson and was constructed from 1898 to 1900.3 The dam supports a 17.5-mile long pool of water and is located 140 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. Work from 1993 to 1995 removed the river guide wall, and downstream face voids were filled with a new concrete overlay with derrick stone being placed below the dam.

In 2001, a cutoff wall was placed inside the lock, rendering it inoperable.3 Grout bags were placed along the far abutment to stop leakage in 2002.

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