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Lock 31

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Lock Number 31 (adjacent to Bibb Graves Bridge)

History Stories Quick Reference


(Reprinted from Wetumpka Herald's Historic Elmore County Magazine 1996-97, by Peggy Blackburn)

Wetumpka lock on Coosa riverAn unfinished lock stands in the waters of the Coosa River below the Bibb Graves Bridge as a monument to the impact of the railroad’s advent. The lock was completed 100 years ago in June 1896. It was to have been one of a system of 31 locks and dams to further the development of the Coosa and Alabama Rivers, making them navigable from Wetumpka to Mobile.

The government project was initiated in 1880, and assigned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for implementation.

A survey was conducted in 1889 by the Montgomery District Office of the Corps of Engineers in order to make final plans for the undertaking. Four locks and dams already were in place and another 27 were proposed.

In addition to the locks and dams, the channel was to be cleared of various rock reefs and points.

The total estimated cost of the work was $6.07 million, according to an 1897 Corps of Engineers report issued shortly after the Wetumpka lock’s construction.

Lock gates, the dam and operating machinery were to have been added as the total project network neared completion. These never materialized – work on the system was abandoned when it was deemed unjustified in the face of the railroad’s rapid expansion.

Lock No. 31 at Wetumpka has stood virtually untouched, but for the ravages of time, since that day. Atop the lock, trees and brush have taken hold, but a water level measuring gauge installed by Alabama Power is the only man-made addition or alteration.

Today the lock serves only as a curiosity and as foreground scenery for the annual fireworks displays launched from the riverbanks beside it.


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