Saturday, May 13, 2023

The steps at Lock and Dam 27

For years I've been going to the park on the Ohio side of old Lock & Dam 27. I'd looked at the old duplex houses on the site, and I've parked my vehicles in the parking area where the old powerhouse stood.

Today for the first time I noticed the sidewalk and steps leading down from the houses to the powerhouse area. I don't know why I'd never noticed them before. They are close to the road, so I was probably focusing more on oncoming traffic, if any, than visuallyscanning the residence area. But today I noticed the steps, and as usual it got me to wondering.

How many people walked down that sidewalk while the dam was in operation? Construction began in 1918, and the dam went into operation in 1923. Operations ceased in or about 1961 when the Greenup Locks and Dam raised its pool, so people must have used that strip of concrete for maybe 40 years -- and it's been 62 years since it was needed.

I had to walk that sidewalk for myself. As I did, I thought about the men who had the sometimes-dangerous job of raising the dam's wickets. Did their wives bring them meals while they worked? Did they use lunch pails similar to those used by underground coal miners of that era? Or maybe they walked up to their homes to eat something before going back to work. How many children used that path down to the powerhouse, and then the steps down to the river to the esplanade where they could get closeup views of the paddlewheel boats in the locks?

As far as I know, no one is planning any sort of centennial celebration of Lock & Dam 27, so I'll declare it myself here on the Ohio River Blog.

Happy 100th, Lock & Dam 27.