Visitors Invited to Tour Chickamauga Lock

The Chickamauga Lock allows boats - pleasure and commercial - to pass through Chickamauga Dam. Upstream of Chickamauga Lock there are 318 miles of navigable waterway. (Photo by Lee Roberts, USACE)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District and Tennessee Valley Authority invite the public for a free tour of Chickamauga Lock on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. Pre-registration is required for all tour guests (details below).

The lock allows boats – pleasure and commercial – to pass through Chickamauga Dam. It is owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency which regulates river navigation.

Upstream of Chickamauga Lock there are 318 miles of navigable waterway used to transport materials to and from industries, TVA facilities and the Department of Energy facilities at Oak Ridge – in addition to pleasure boating.  Aging concrete is causing structural concerns at the existing lock, and officials have said the lock will have to be closed at some point if not repaired. Also, the existing 60 by 360-foot lock is a non-standard size that is not suited to the barges used by the transportation industry today.  The new 110 by 600-foot Chickamauga Lock under construction will replace the existing lock, improve locking efficiency, and solve the structural issues caused by the concrete problem at the current lock.

This is a view of the construction area taken from the reservoir above Chickamauga Dam. (Photo: Richard Simms)

The project broke ground in 2005, actual new lock construction began in 2007 and was initially projected to be completed many years ago. However, in spite of pleas from various Tennessee legislative leaders, there have been ongoing funding delays for the project. The project sat silent in “mothball” status for several years until some funding was restored and work resumed in 2016. The Corps of Engineers web page now indicates “the project could be completed in approximately eight years with full funding.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is removing approximately 100,000 cubic yards of rock from the riverbed of the Tennessee River to prepare for the new lock. Check out this video of the blasting taken Dec. 4, 2017. The mats are 3,000 to 5,000 pounds and are used to keep rocks from flying into the air during the explosion. (USACE Video by Lee Roberts)


On Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018 four groups of 25 people will be allowed to tour the lock facility at 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., and 12:30 p.m. The address is 5535 Trailhead Drive, Chattanooga, TN 37415. Pre-registration is required for all tour guests (including minors). The deadline to register is Aug. 10, 2018. Personal information collected during sign-up is used for security background checks.

To sign up for a tour go to this website. (Be advised: The address on that page is 5535 Trailhead Drive. But searching on Google Maps has the address listed as 5400 Lake Resort Drive)

NOTE: You must provide full name, address, phone number, driver’s license, state of issue, for every person 18 and over signed up for the tour.  If it is not provided that person will not be allowed to participate in the tour upon arrival. When signing up, each individual must have a different e-mail address or the website will not accept additional signups for additional family members. Please put “None” in Driver’s License field for children who do not possess them.


—  All facilities are ADA accessible.
— Only visitors with approval and confirmation will be permitted on the tour.  No substitutions or additions are allowed.
— All participants over 16 years of age must provide photo identification upon arrival for the tour.
— Visitors may not carry packages, backpacks, or other containers during the tour.
— No high-heel, open heel shoes, including clogs and crocs or bare feet, will be allowed on a tour. Tennis shoes are recommended.
— All children 16 and under must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or responsible adult during the tour.
— Any increase in threat conditions can result in approved tours being canceled with little notice.  We regret any inconvenience this may cause.
— An e-mail will be sent to anyone signed up for a tour if for any reason a tour is canceled.

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