Ohio River Lock and Dam No. 31 is located near Kirkville, Kentucky and was utilized by the United States Army Corps of Engineers for the operation of the lock along the Ohio River. Located in northeast Lewis County 20 miles upstream of Vanceburg and 2.5 miles downstream of Portsmouth, Ohio, Lock No. 31 was part of a 53 dam system built between 1875 and 1929 from the Missisisppi River to Pittsburgh.1 The 7.71-acre lot is located on a high terrace overlooking the Ohio River and all buildings face the river and was built between 1915 and 1917.

At the center of the complex is the one-story, brick powerhouse, built in 1919, that features a 60-foot vertical smokestack.1 It was designed in the Classical Revival architectural style. At the time of its completion, the area was not served by reliable electrical power, and the lock and dam complex required a power generating facility as to become self-sufficient. Flanking the power house are two frame bungalows that were one and a-half story clapboard residences. In the early 1930’s, three additional two-story brick houses were erected, which were used by the Lockmaster’s family, the Assistant Lockmaster and another family. Other buildings included a seven-bay brick garage, blacksmith shop and a steel water tank.

Lock and Dam No. 31 was rendered obsolete when the Captain Meldahl lock and dam was completed downstream in December 1964.1 2 The lock and dam was demolished soon after its opening and the buildings were sold in 1968 to Quality Car and Truck Leasing of Portsmouth.

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