Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Ballard Locks AKA Hiram M.Chittenden Locks

Every calls them the Ballard Locks or just The Locks

Separation of State and Federal Governments for Sure!

while the Admiral went to the Gardens to do some bird watching I went straight to the locks. Certainly did not want to miss any vessels coming or going. 

Looking Northward toward the channel to Puget Sound

Looking Southward toward Lakes Union and Washington

Argosy tour boat locking through

Could not believe this flock of Canada Geese choose to lock through rather than just fly over!

The tour boat had to wait on the flock of Geese, the lock staff through bread in the water to encourage the flock to hurry along.

Small tug towing two large barges through

The lines holding the two barges looked like they have seen the end of the Rope.

I was surprised at how the skipper was able to enter down the center of the lock and then guide his barges over to nudge up against the wall. 

We got lucky and got in on the last tour of the day.

We are collecting those pennies that you get out of these machines stamped flat with a image on them like a Salmon for our youngest Grandaughter. 

In the summer this lock would be full of pleasure boats. 

Trading places, one coming, one going. 

The Locks also provide flood control for Lake Union and Washington with these gates.The Salmon ladder is just to the right of the gates. 

The Gates have served steady for years and now they have to be replaced due to old age. 

The Gates to the locks were designed from Leonardo Da Vinci drawings. The water pressure from the inside of the lock keeps the gates water tight.

The Ballard Locks AKA Hiram M. Chittenden Locks


This is probable the third time we have been to the Ballard Locks but the first time since we moved up here. This is a great place to visit especially during the summer when the locks are super busy with commercial and pleasure boats of all kinds. Also at certain times of the year when the Salmon are returning upstream to lay their eggs you get to see them climb the Salmon ladder built in to assist them through this obstacle.
We happened to arrive just when the last free tour was scheduled so we joined in. The History of Lake Union and Lake Washington was the most interesting part as they had to decide just where to build a connecting canal and where to place the locks. Hiram M.Chittenden was the man who engineered it all and turned down the locals request to build the locks out of wood (wood was plentiful and the locals wanted the contracts of course). Concrete and steel won out and has served for almost 100 years.
Lake Washington was 30 feet above sea level and Lake Union was 20 feet above sea level. After the joining canal was dredged it lowered Lake Washington to about 22 feet to match lake union. The locks, depending on tides can lock vessels down 26 feet, or up 26 feet always using fresh water. The water is provided mostly by rains and or snow melt from the Cascades.
The other cool feature is the Salmon Ladder that assist Salmon returning upstream to lay there eggs and then die off providing the environment with natural food an or decaying material that maintains the cycle of life.
We have been through our share of locks on the Gulf ICW but none were near as interesting as this lock and it's running history in the PNW. Got to see it to understand.

No comments:

Post a Comment