Wicket Locks and Dams
Wicket Locks and Dams
Photos & Stories

The first Federal improvements for navigation on the Ohio River came in 1824 with the removal of snags and sandbars. These measures were effective, but they were only temporary—new sandbars would appear after every flood. They also provided no relief against low water, which stopped navigation almost every year. The construction of a dam with a stable pool and a lock bypassing the dam would have ended problems caused by low water, but the shippers who needed the full width of the river for maneuvering were opposed to a dam.
A compromise solution was a movable dam that could be raised in times of low water to create a pool and lowered when the flow was adequate for navigation. The dams finally built had a series of Chanoine wickets, invented by Frenchman Jacques Chanoine, extending across the river. A system of 50 movable dams was built on the Ohio River between 1879 and 1929, making the Ohio navigable for its entire length at all times.
Each dam actually consists of a row of 300 or more little dams, individually hinged to a foundation on the river bottom. The wickets are constructed of heavy timber about 4 feet wide and up to 20 feet long. Raising or lowering the wickets is done by a crew on a maneuver boat that moves along the upstream face of the dam. A bar is connected to the back of each wicket with the free end riding in a groove in the foundation. To raise them, a grapple hooks a wicket and pulls it from the bed of the river. The bar slides up the groove to a niche, where it catches and supports the wicket upright against the flow of the river.
The advent of the more powerful diesel tow-boat after World War II greatly increased the size of the tows operating on the Ohio River. The tows were longer than the 600-foot locks and had to be broken into two segments for locking, more than doubling the time necessary for a lockage. A modernization program was begun on the Ohio in the 1950s to replace the old dams and the undersized locks with higher dams and longer locks, making the locking operation faster and less frequent.
By 1977, all but the lowest four wicket dams had been replaced. 
It was at these old wooden dams that ice during the winter of '77
threatened structural damage.

Wicket Folk

Left to Right Seated:
Eddie Nunn, Wicket Lock and Dam 50 & Smithland Locks and Dam;
Carl Ball, Wicket Lock and Dam 45 & Cannelton Locks and Dam;
Harvey R. Morton, Wicket Lock and Dam 45 & Uniontown Locks & Dam.
Left to right Standing:
James (Herschel) Belt, Wicket Lock and Dam 45, Wicket Lock and Dam 50 and Smithland Locks & Dam;
Tom Diaz, Wicket Lock and Dam 50 & Smithland Locks and Dam

Lawrence “Mac” McClellan (Left) -  Wicket Lock and Dam 51 & Smithland Locks & Dam
I. W.  ("Dub") Cook (Right) - Wicket Lock and Dam 50, Wicket Lock & Dam 52 & Smithland Locks & Dam

I missed this years Christmas Party at Newburgh but here is a Christmas card that would make every one Happy



By 1977, all but the lowest four wicket dams had been replaced. It was at these old wooden dams that ice during the winter of '77 threatened structural damage.

Wicket Home Page

The Sergeant Floyd

2014 Fish Fry

Lock and Dam 2007 
Christmas Reunion at Newburgh Locks and Dam

Lock and Dam 2008 
Christmas Reunion at Newburgh Locks and Dam

Lock and Dam 2009 
Christmas Reunion at Newburgh Locks and Dam

Lock and Dam 2010
Christmas Reunion at Newburgh Locks and Dam

Lock and Dam 2011
Christmas Reunion at Newburgh Locks and Dam

Tom's Lock and Dam Stories
Tom's Lock and Dam Ice Photos
Lock and Dam 50 Highwater Photo
Lock and Dam 50 Photos and Stories
The Mississippi Queen at Lock 50
The Mississippi Queen Up Over the Pass at Dam 50

Lock and Dam 52 Photos and Stories
Page 2   Page 3     Page 4 Page 5    Page 6

Weston Photos and Stories by Bonnie Gass
Blowing up Lock and Dam 50
Lock and Dam 50 Today
A Time to Dredge
Ohio River 3 Day Forecast
Lock 50 Today Video
Lock and Dam 50 Under Construction

This Web site is sponsored and paid for by the donations of 

The National Active and Retired Federal Employees of Crittenden County, 
Chapter 1373 of Marion, Kentucky .
Tom Diaz President local1373@gmail.com

The Chapters in District I are doing rather well; they do all the good things that NARFE Chapters do in their Communities. Age slows their bodies but not their minds. 
We are rather proud that we served our country and were part of the helping bureaucracy in this vast nation.
As we all say, "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
NARFE Chapters are one of the blessings of our country.


The Web sites we sponsor and pay for are: 

Crittenden County Coalition for a Drug-Free Community

 Wicket Locks and Dams(Also Named Dam 50)

Ohio River 3 Day Forecast 

NARFE Local Chapter 1373 Blog

Lock and Dam Story
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