List of locks and dams of the Ohio River

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Jump to: navigation, search

This is a list of locks and dams of the Ohio River, which begins at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers at the Point in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and ends at the confluence of the Ohio River and the Mississippi River near Cairo, Illinois.

Ohio River water stairway

Evolution of navigation on the Ohio River[edit]

In the early days of steamboat navigation on the Ohio River the major physical hurdle that delayed travel was the Falls of the Ohio near Louisville, Kentucky. Steamboats could only maneuver over the falls during times of high water, which were not consistent. It was more practical for the steamboats to drop off passengers and freight on one end of the falls and transport them over land to the opposite end of the falls to another steamboat. This resulted in Louisville becoming a customary last stop for vessels on both legs of the Ohio. If a steamboat desired to travel unimpeded though the falls without waiting for high water, a canal and lock system was needed in order to circumvent the falls.

In 1825, construction began on that canal, and by 1830 the privately financed Louisville and Portland Canal was finished. The canal was constructed by hand tools with the help of animal-drawn scrappers and carts. The completed canal was two miles long with three locking chambers that created a total lift of 26 feet.[1]


The amount of coal transported down river from Pittsburgh jumped greatly following the Civil War. The size of the tows also grew with the amount of coal hauled. Due to the escalating coal trade the US Army Corps of Engineers began studying for methods to produce a reliable navigation depth on the Ohio. The Corps launched an international study to analyze other navigation projects worldwide. They determined that building a system of locks and dams to form pools was best solution to their problem.

Following the opening of the lock and dam at Davis Island in 1885, the venture proved to be worthy. In 1910, the Rivers and Harbors Act was authorized by Congress. The Act allowed the production of a system of locks and dams along the Ohio. In 1929, the canalization project on the Ohio River was finished. The project produced 51 wooden wicket dams and 600 foot by 110 foot lock chambers along the length of the river.

During the 1940s, a shift from steam propelled to diesel powered towboats allowed for tows longer than the 600 foot locks on the river. This meant barges had to be locked in two phases. This operation was dangerous and time consuming. It backed up river traffic and increased expenses for the towing industry. The Corps initiated the Ohio River Navigation Modernization Program in the 1950s. The programs purpose was to replace the system of outdated wicket dams and small locks. The new dams were non-navigable and made of concrete and steel. Each dam has two adjoining locks, one 600 foot by 110 foot chamber, and a 1200 foot by 110 foot chamber to accommodate fifteen barges that can lock through in one maneuver.[2]


      Dam produces hydroelectricity.
      Project is currently under construction.
      Locks and/or dam are in the process of being replaced.

RDBRight Descending Bank
LDBLeft Descending Bank

Downstream, Pittsburgh to Olmsted[edit]

Locks & DamLocation[L]CoordinatesRiver MileLock SideLock Lift/Drop
(in feet)
Pool Elevation
(feet above sea level)
Pool Length
Emsworth Locks and DamPittsburgh, Pennsylvania40°30′15″N 80°05′20″W / 40.50427°N 80.08892°W / 40.50427; -80.088926.2RDB187106.2+
Dashields Locks and DamCoraopolis, Pennsylvania40°32′56″N 80°12′21″W / 40.54892°N 80.20592°W / 40.54892; -80.2059213.3LDB106927.1
Montgomery Locks and DamMonaca, Pennsylvania40°38′55″N 80°23′08″W / 40.64857°N 80.38546°W / 40.64857; -80.3854631.7LDB1868218.4
New Cumberland Locks and DamStratton, Ohio40°31′40″N 80°37′39″W / 40.52766°N 80.62763°W / 40.52766; -80.6276354.3RDB2166422.6
Pike Island Locks and DamWheeling, West Virginia40°08′59″N 80°42′04″W / 40.14983°N 80.70115°W / 40.14983; -80.7011584.2LDB2164429.9
Hannibal Locks and DamHannibal, Ohio39°40′01″N 80°51′55″W / 39.66706°N 80.86534°W / 39.66706; -80.86534126.4RDB2162342.2
Willow Island Locks and DamHNewport, Ohio39°21′38″N 81°19′13″W / 39.36048°N 81.32041°W / 39.36048; -81.32041161.7RDB2060235.3
Belleville Locks and Dam[3]Reedsville, Ohio39°07′08″N 81°44′33″W / 39.11881°N 81.74244°W / 39.11881; -81.74244203.9RDB2258242.2
Racine Locks and Dam[4]Letart, West Virginia38°55′02″N 81°54′42″W / 38.91735°N 81.91162°W / 38.91735; -81.91162237.5LDB2256033.6
Robert C. Byrd Locks and DamGallipolis Ferry, West Virginia38°40′54″N 82°11′18″W / 38.68156°N 82.18829°W / 38.68156; -82.18829279.2LDB2353841.7
Greenup Locks and Dam[5]Greenup, Kentucky38°38′49″N 82°51′39″W / 38.64684°N 82.86077°W / 38.64684; -82.86077341.0LDB3051561.8
Captain Anthony Meldahl Locks and DamFoster, Kentucky38°47′50″N 84°10′14″W / 38.79720°N 84.17050°W / 38.79720; -84.17050436.2RDB3048595.2
Markland Locks and Dam[6]Warsaw, Kentucky38°46′28″N 84°57′54″W / 38.77446°N 84.96487°W / 38.77446; -84.96487531.5LDB3545595.3
McAlpine Locks and Dam[7]Louisville, Kentucky38°16′58″N 85°46′53″W / 38.28280°N 85.78130°W / 38.28280; -85.78130606.8LDB3742075.3
Cannelton Locks and DamHCannelton, Indiana37°54′00″N 86°42′21″W / 37.89990°N 86.70590°W / 37.89990; -86.70590720.7RDB25383113.9
Newburgh Locks and DamNewburgh, Indiana37°55′51″N 87°22′20″W / 37.93090°N 87.37220°W / 37.93090; -87.37220776.1RDB1635855.4
John T. Myers Locks and DamMt. Vernon, Indiana37°47′37″N 87°59′27″W / 37.79350°N 87.99090°W / 37.79350; -87.99090846.0RDB1834269.9
Smithland Locks and DamHHamletsburg, Illinois37°09′56″N 88°25′51″W / 37.16560°N 88.43090°W / 37.16560; -88.43090918.5RDB2232472.5
Locks and Dam Number 52Brookport, Illinois938.9RDB1230220.4
Locks and Dam Number 53Grand Chain, Illinois962RDB≤1729023.7
Olmsted Locks and Dam[8]Olmsted, Illinois37°11′02″N 89°03′49″W / 37.18380°N 89.06350°W / 37.18380; -89.06350964.4RDB≤30--46.0


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rhodes, Rick (2008). The Ohio River In American History: Locks and Dams History. Saint Petersburg, Florida: Heron Island Guides. 
  2. ^ "History of Navigation Development on the Ohio River". U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District. Retrieved July 31, 2008. 
  3. ^ "Belleville Hydroelectric Plant, AMP-Ohio". U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District website. Retrieved July 27, 2008. 
  4. ^ "Racine Dam Hydroelectric Plant, AEP". U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District website. Retrieved July 27, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Greenup Dam Hydroelectric Plant, Hamilton Ohio". U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District website. Retrieved July 27, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Markland Dam Hydroelectric Plant, Cinergy". U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District website. Retrieved July 27, 2008. 
  7. ^ "McAlpine Locks and Dam Replacement". U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District website. Retrieved July 27, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Olmsted Locks and Dam Construction". U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District. Retrieved July 27, 2008. 

External links[edit]