Seattle Blog and Recent Site Additions
May 30, 2012
Hirem M. Chittenden Locks (Ballard Locks)
3015 NW 54th Street
A boat entering the large boats lock from the salt water side
In a city overflowing with high technology, one of Seattle’s favorite attractions drawing over a million visitors annually is a simple lock system for boats. This blog is about the Ballard Locks.
The Ballard Locks are part of the Lake Washington Ship Canal system that allows boats to move the salt water of Puget Sound to the fresh water of Lake Union and Lake Washington. The Locks were built in 1917 and about 100,000 boats of all sizes go through the Locks annually. Simply described, there are two boat locks, one for large boats and one for smaller vessels. The locks can accommodate vessels up to 80 feet wide and 825 feet long. The boats enter the locks, the locks close, the water level is raised to the lake level with fresh water, and the locks open. The Locks keep the salt water from entering the fresh water lakes and they keep the lakes 20 to 22 feet above the level of Puget Sound. The Locks are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Locks are on the National Register of Historic Places.
An overhead view of the locks complex
It is fun to watch the boats go through, especially on a busy day when they get stacked up. The colorful boats make really nice photography targets.
As part of the Locks system, a sophisticated salmon ladder helps 500,000 salmon migrate from Puget Sound to the fresh water of the lakes. Visitors can watch the fish migrate up the 21-level ladder from underwater viewing stations.
Visitors can check out the visitor center to learn more about the Locks. The Visitor Center has exhibits about the Locks and a gift shop. The Visitor Center is open daily 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the summer and it closes at 4:00 p.m. from October 1 through April 30. The Center is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesday during the winter season.
There is a large pay for parking lot adjacent to the Locks and the Gardens.
The locks operate 24 hours a day every day of the year. The grounds for the Locks and the Gardens are open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
There is no charge to visit the Locks and the Gardens.
Please click here to go to the Corps of Engineers' official web site for the Locks.
CARL S. ENGLISH BOTANICAL GARDENS
The Carl S. English Gardens are one of the better kept secrets in Seattle. The gardens are part of the campus that includes the Ballard Locks. The seven acres of the Gardens are quite scenic in the summer season and offer photographers a great place to practice their craft. Please click here to go to our separate web page covering the Gardens.
The north side of the locks. The large boat lock is closest
The small boats lock open to salt water
Boats on fresh water waiting to enter the locks
A boat being raised in the large boat lock
A crowd of small boats in the small boat lock
A boat exiting the salt water side of the small boat lock
Algae decorating the large boat lock
A large boat being raised in the large boat lock. The admininstration building for the Corps of Engineers is in the background.
The dam spillway
The sculpture Salmon Waves by Paul Sorey at Fish Ladder Plaza
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