Cannelton Locks & Dam


The Cannelton Locks and Dam project was approved as a replacement structure for the existing Locks 43,44 and 45 on 27 January, 1960 for the Secretary of the Army under the authority of Section 6 of the River and Harbor Act which was approved 3 March 1909. The total cost of the Cannelton Locks and Dam project was $98,040,000. Construction started in May of 1962.

The Cannelton Locks and Dam consist of one main lock chamber, 110 feet wide by 1200 feet long and one auxiliary lock chamber, 110 feet wide by 600 feet long. The two lock chambers are parallel to each other on the Indiana shore. The locks can be filled or emptied in about 8 minutes. The dam consists of two sections. The main portion is a non-navigable structure, 1,412 feet long with twelve gates. Each gate is 42 feet high and 100 feet long and supported between 15 food wide piers. The gates can be raised or lowered by means of electric hoists located on top of the piers. The supporting arms of the gates are designed so that the gates can be raised out of the water. During flood situations, the gates are raised completely out of the water and the dam has no effect on flood stages, either to raise or reduce the flood levels that occur. The section section of the dam is a concrete weir or wall that extends from the end of the gated section to the Kentucky shore. This weir is 195 feet long.

The 1200 foot long lock chamber of the Cannelton Locks enables the large commercial tows to pass through the lock in one operation rather than having to untie the tow and lock it through in smaller sections as was necessary in the old structures.

The Cannelton Locks and Dam replaces these out-moded older locks and dams with one modern structure, thus reducing the travel time because only one lockage is required instead of three as in the past.

The deeper, wider and more stable pool formed by the Cannelton Locks and Dam permits more efficient and safe operation by the large commercial tows in the area.

The normal upper pool elevation is 383.0 feet, mean sea level and the lower pool elevation is 358.0 mean sea level. The difference in height between the two pools (lift) is 25 feet. It takes one million gallons of water for each foot of lift each time the lock is operated. In Cannelton Locks this will require twenty-five million gallons of water.

The navigable channel of the Ohio is obtained by means of dams which form a series of lakes the entire length of the waterway. In profile, the waterway would appear like a stairway, with the lakes forming the treads and the dams forming the risers. Boats pass the dams by means of locks. Vessels are raised or lowered in the lock by admitting water to, or releasing water from the lock chamber by controlled gravity flow through passages around the lock gates.

A 114 mile lake...

In recent years, with the growth of the interest in water-related recreation, the Ohio River has become a people place...busy weekends involving boaters, water skiers, swimmers, and picnickers. All of them out for a good time in, on and around the water.

The pools created by the canalization of the Ohio River were originally designed to move commercial traffic with greater ease and speed. They have now become long "lakes" inviting the public to use them for recreation activity.

The Cannelton Locks and Dam create a "lake" 114 miles long, stretching from Cannelton, Indiana to Louisville, Kentucky. This uninterrupted stretch of water provides some of the most beautiful scenery for the boater. With the interest that has been created in recreation boating, the ramps, marinas and service areas in this pool are becoming more numerous.

We invite you to use this 114 mile stretch of water for your recreation fun. Please remember that Water Safety is a personal matter. Check your equipment to make sure that it is in working order, observe the rules and regulations on boating, and observe the three "Cs" of water safety...COURTESY -- considering how your actions will affect you and the others who are using the water...COMMON SENSE -- using your head and avoid those foolish and often fatal mistakes of improper equipment or taking chances that result in tragedy...CONFIDENCE -- the art of knowing what to do because you have taken time to learn how to do it. Know your boat, its equipment and your own abilities. Don't exceed the capability of any of these items.

Additional information may be obtained from the Lockmaster at the project or the District Engineer at:

District Engineer
U.S. Army Engineer District, Louisville
P.O. Box 59
Louisville, KY 40201

US Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District Website

The Ohio River in Profile (Map)