The story of a forgotten America.

Kentucky River Lock No. 3

Down many miles of winding, two-lane roads lies the community of Gest, Kentucky and the Kentucky River Lock and Dam No. 3.

Down many miles of winding, two-lane roads lies the community of Gest, Kentucky and the Kentucky River Lock and Dam No. 3. Constructed from 1836 to 1842, the dam supports a 23-mile long pool of water 42 miles from the mouth of the Ohio River.  It was originally constructed 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. It was rebuilt in 1882, modified in the early 1890′s, and again in the early 1900’s.

Over time, commercial river traffic on the Kentucky dwindled. Steamboats were replaced by passenger trains and then automobiles. Industries switched to freight trains and then trucks. All provided a level of service, efficiency and costs that were superior over river travel. Eventually, all locks below Frankfort – No. 5 through No. 14, were abandoned. The lockmaster houses were all closed by the early 1990’s and many were later demolished.

No. 3 continued to perform until 2007, when it was closed due to structural and mechanical problems. A renovation in 2012 saw the reopening of the lock to limited traffic three days per week. Check out more from Lock and Dam No. 3, including its full history »


Add Yours →

There was also a toll ferry just below (north) on the river between Gest and Monterrey (Owen Co).
I am not sure exactly when it was in operation.

I have some old county maps where it was marked (Owen 1937, Henry 1942, Owen 1953, Henry 1955). I don’t have any other maps between those years and 1990. It closed sometime between the mid-1950’s and then.

I hope they get all the locks going in years to come. And build a nice Yaght club above # 14
Saw some nice ones at Frankfort lasy time I was there! Perhaps the locks could be run by private marinas.

Nice pictures and a good article! I would point out, however, that Locks 5 through 14 are above Frankfort, not below. The old Kentucky River locks and dams were operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for most of their history, but are now owned by a state agency, the Kentucky River Authority, which was formed in 1986 specifically for the purposes of restoring and operating all the locks and dams.

Leave your comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Introducing the new 2024 Abandoned Kentucky calendar, a captivating journey through the hidden gems of the Bluegrass State.