Ohio River Lock & Dam No. 34

Ohio River Lock No. 34

Ohio River Lock & Dam No. 34 is a former Ohio River lock and wicket dam in Chilo, Ohio, in use between 1925 to 1964.


Ohio River Lock & Dam No. 34 was part of a 53 wicket dam and lock system built between 1875 and 1929 from the Mississippi River to the Allegheny River at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 1 Prior to the completion of the wicket dams, the Ohio River would reach low levels of one to two feet during the dry summer months, making river transportation impossible. 3

Work on Lock & Dam No. 34 began in 1914 when 14 acres were purchased by the federal government. 3 Most of the construction of the dam and buildings did not begin until 1924 when workers from the National Construction Company were hired. Construction crews installed wooden cofferdams to work unimpeded while installing the wooden wickets.

Costing $3.336 million to complete, Lock & Dam No. 34 was dedicated on October 6, 1925. 3 4 It consisted of 200 wickets that could take several hours to raise or lower by hand. The single lock chamber measured 600-feet long by 110-feet wide. Support structures, which included nine houses, an eight-car garage, maintenance shed, paint locker, and powerhouse, were situated on a high terrace. 3

The movable dams maintained a minimum nine-foot channel depth. 3 When the water was high, the wickets were lowered and rested flat on the river’s bottom. This allowed boats to travel over the wickets, saving them time by not having to enter the lock chamber.

The powerhouse included two air tanks on the third floor, which stored air that was used to open and close the roller gates on the lock chamber. 3 It also featured equipment doors on the third floor that was used along with a pulley system to lift equipment into the powerhouse. During floods, residents of the dam used the doors and pulleys to lift their possessions into the building above the flood waters.

Ohio River Lock & Dam No. 34 was rendered obsolete when the dual-lock Captain Meldahl Lock and Dam opened downstream in December 1964. 1 2 3 Far larger, Meldahl allowed the Ohio River to maintain a normal pool of 37 feet. 3 The original locks and wickets were dismantled shortly after.


Further Reading


[su_spoiler title=”Sources” icon=”caret”]

  1. United States. Dept. of the Interior. Ohio River Lock and Dam No. 31. Comp. Robert M. Polsgrove. Washington: National Park Service, May 1986. National Park Service. Web. 30 Jan. 2014. Article.
  2. “Captain Meldahl Locks and Dam.” US Army Corps of Engineers. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2014. Article.
  3. Interpretative signage.
  4. Rains, Laura. “Unlocking memories: Chilo No. 34 Park visitors center, museum opens.” Ledger Independent [Maysville], 24 Aug. 2005.


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