Kentucky River Locks & Dams

Kentucky River Lock & Dam No. 14

The Kentucky River consists of 14 active and closed locks and dams between Carrollton and Beattyville, Kentucky.






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 the operation of Lock & Dam No. 5 through No. 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 & Dam No. 2

Lock & Dam No. 2, located 31 miles from the Ohio River in Lockport, was constructed between 1836-42 as a timber crib structure in which an outside frame of timbers was filled with dirt and rock, with a lock erected of stone masonry. 4 It supports an 11-mile long pool of water.

The dam was rebuilt in 1882 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a concrete overlay was added over the timber crib in the early 1890s. 4 In 1950, the wood lock gates were replaced with steel gates, with repairs to the upper guide wall and guide wall in 1977. Additional repairs and the installation of sheet piling in front of the dam was finished in 1980. The lock was closed due to structural and mechanical problems in 2007 and later repaired.

Lock & Dam No. 3

Lock & Dam No. 3, located 42 miles from the Ohio River in Gest, was constructed between 1836-42 as a timber crib structure in which an outside frame of timbers was filled with dirt and rock, with a lock erected of stone masonry. 7 It supports a 23-mile long pool of water.

The dam was rebuilt in 1882 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a concrete overlay was added over the timber crib in the early 1890s and again in 1911. 7 A concrete wall was built adjacent to the abutment opposite of the lock, running upstream for 70 feet, in 1908. Repairs to cracks and holes in the concrete cap were completed in 1941. New concrete was poured to the crest of the dam and sheet piling was added to the front of the dam for additional stability in 1977. The abutment, opposite of the lock, was repaired with rock armoring in 2005. Despite this, the lock was closed in 2007 due to structural and mechanical problems.

In 2012, the Kentucky River Authority awarded Brayman Construction a $4 million, five-month contract to dredge the approaches and lock chambers and to rebuild the lock gate. 8

Lock & Dam No. 6

Lock & Dam No. 6, located 96 miles from the Ohio River in Oregon, was constructed between 1888-91 as a timber crib structure in which an outside frame of timbers was filled with dirt and rock, with a lock erected of stone masonry. 3 It supports a 21-mile long pool of water.

A concrete overlay was added over the timber crib in 1911. 3 In 1966, steel sheet pilings were driven upstream of the dam and the upper slope was leveled off with new concrete. In 1983, years after the lock was last used, 22,000 tons of derrick stone was placed to help fill voids in the dam and to protect the far abutment from erosion. Derrick stone was placed below the dam, the river guide wall was removed, and downstream face voids were filled with a concrete overlay in 1994. In 2006, a cutoff wall was placed inside the lock, rendering it inoperable.

Lock & Dam No. 7

Lock & Dam No. 7, located 117 miles from the Ohio River at High Bridge, was constructed between 1896-97 as a timber crib structure in which an outside frame of timbers was filled with dirt and rock, with a lock erected of stone masonry. 5 It supports a 23-mile long pool of water.

A concrete overlay was added over the timber crib in 1914. 5 In 1993-95, decades after the lock was last used, derrick stone was placed below the dam, the river guide wall was removed, and downstream face voids were filled with a concrete overlay. In 2006, a cutoff wall was placed inside the lock, rendering it inoperable.

Lock & Dam No. 8

Lock & Dam No. 8, located 140 miles from the Ohio River near Camp Nelson, was constructed between 1898 and 1900 as a timber crib structure in which an outside frame of timbers was filled with dirt and rock, with a lock erected of stone masonry. 6 It supports a 7½-mile long pool of water.

In 1993-95, decades after the lock was last used, derrick stone was placed below the dam, the river guide wall was removed, and downstream face voids were filled with a concrete overlay. 6 In 2001, a cutoff wall was placed inside the lock, rendering it inoperable, and grout bags were placed along the far abutment to stop leakage in 2002.

Lock & Dam No. 10

Lock and Dam No. 10, located 176 miles from the Ohio River in Fort Boonesboro, was constructed out of concrete from 1902 to 1905. 10 It supports a 24½-mile long pool of water. In 1906, an auxiliary dam was built to close off where an esplanade washed out.

In 1993-94, decades after the lock was last used, derrick stone was placed below the dam, sheet piling was backfilled with gravel and capped with concrete upstream of the dam, and the lock gates were reinforced and painted. 10 A gap in the toe of the dam was filled in with concrete in 2004. The dam was substantially rehabilitated in 2020-21 with the construction of eight concrete-filled, steel sheet pile cellular structures and connecting arc cells 72 feet upstream of the existing main structure and 222 feet upstream of the existing auxiliary structure. 11

Lock & Dam No. 14

Lock and Dam No. 7, located 249 miles from the Ohio River in Heidelberg, was built out of concrete from 1911-17. 9

In 1999, decades after the lock was last used, sheet piling backfilled with gravel was placed across the main dam and capped with concrete, the abutments were rebuilt with new release valves, and derrick stone was placed below the dam. 9 A concrete cutoff wall was built in the lock chamber, and the lock filling valves were sealed, rendering the lock system inoperable.






Further Reading


Sources

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  1. Jenior, Pete. “Kentucky River Lock and Dam Guide.” March 9, 2007.
  2. “Kentucky River Authority.” Kentucky Finance Cabinet. March 9, 2007.
  3. “Lock and Dam 6.” Finance and Administration Cabinet. Commonwealth of Kentucky, 13 Mar. 2008. Web. 6 Mar. 2012.
  4. “Lock and Dam 2.” Finance and Administration Cabinet. Commonwealth of Kentucky, 13 Mar. 2008. Web. 6 Mar. 2012.
  5. “Lock and Dam 7.” Finance and Administration Cabinet. Commonwealth of Kentucky, 13 Mar. 2008. Web. 6 Mar. 2012.
  6. “Lock and Dam 8.” Finance and Administration Cabinet. Commonwealth of Kentucky, 13 Mar. 2008. Web. 6 Mar. 2012.
  7. “Lock and Dam 3.” Finance and Administration Cabinet. Commonwealth of Kentucky, 13 Mar. 2008.
  8. “Kentucky River Lock and Dam 1, 3 and 4.” Brayman ConstructionArticle.
  9. “Lock and Dam 14.” Finance and Administration Cabinet. Commonwealth of Kentucky.
  10. Lock and Dam 10.” Finance and Administration Cabinet. Commonwealth of Kentucky.
  11. “RFB-166-18 KRA – Renovation of Kentucky River Lock & Dam #10.” Lynn Imaging, 12 Feb. 2018.

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1 Comment

  1. In the early 1950 there was a dam on the Ohio River near Addison KY. I think it was called Dam 45. My grandfather fished there. His name was Charles Harpe. Do you have information about that? Mel Frey Louisville, KY

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