The Greenup Locks and Dam is the 11th lock and dam along the Ohio River and is located in Lloyd, Kentucky.
In 1910, Congress approved building locks and dams on the Ohio River to canalize the waterway and maintain year-round navigation for trade. 3 By 1929, 46 wicket-style dams were completed, turning the river into a chain of long lakes, each 10 to 73 miles, ensuring a minimum depth of nine feet throughout. The lift at most of the dams was eight to 12 feet. The network of structures was dedicated in that year by President Herbert Hoover. 7
Except for the Gallipolis facilities, the dams struggled to maintain water depths safe for barging. 3 Moreover, the lock chambers, at just 600 feet, fell short for modern tows often exceeding 1,000 feet. Originally designed for 13 million tons of annual freight, they handled 22 million tons by completion. By 1954, the Ohio River saw a freight movement of 65 million tons.
It was decided to construct a new “super dam” near Lloyd, Kentucky because of a surge in industrial activity in the vicinity. 2 By the 1960s, it was anticipated that coal shipped along the river for electricity would surpass the river’s current total cargo. At that time, major coal-fired power plants were being built along the river. Notably, two of these would supply power for the Atomic Energy Commission’s gaseous diffusion plant near Waverly, Ohio.
Before 1917, the Ohio River saw less than 100,000 kW of power generation. 2 By 1951, this had soared to over four million kW, doubling to eight million kW by 1954. By 1956, plants along the river were projected to generate 10 to 12 million kW, requiring an estimated 30 million tons of coal.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed the Greenup Locks and Dam to replace the older Locks and Dam Nos. 27-30 on the Ohio River and No. 1 on the Big Sandy River. 1 3 This project was the first of 21 modern “super” dams planned to replace 46 outdated structures. 3 The new dam, featuring advanced roller technology, would have twin lock chambers, ensuring a 12-foot navigational depth.
Construction of the $54 million 6 Greenup Locks and Dam commenced in October 1954 1 after a $1.2 million contract for the building of the cofferdam was awarded to the Dravo Corporation of Pittsburgh. 5 Work was temporarily halted on February 1, 1955, because of a disagreement between operating engineers and Dravo. 3 The strike started when an engineer referred to the job by the local union was not hired. The issue was settled on February 11.
In June 1958, 1 4 the Army Corps of Engineers granted a $15.4 million contract to Massman Construction Company of Kansas City, Missouri for the building of a dam, protective walls, and emergency lock gates. 4
The locks became operational a week earlier than expected because of existing river conditions on November 27, 1959. 1 6 Originally scheduled for completion in 1961, delays largely caused by floods slowed construction. 7 The dam reached its full height by June 4, 1962, forming a pool almost 62 miles to the Gallipolis Locks and Dam at a normal elevation of 515 feet mean sea level and lifting water by 30 feet. Additionally, it extended slack water 22 miles up the Big Sandy and 11 miles up the Little Sandy rivers. 3
The modern Greenup facility boasted a high-lift movable dam spanning 1,287 feet. 1 3 This included a 245-foot fixed weir, and nine tainter gates each 37 feet high by 100 feet long. 7 The dam’s gates were designed to be raised above all floods of record at Greenup and Ashland. Additionally, the facility was equipped with two locks—a main lock measuring 1,200 feet × 110 feet and an auxiliary one at 600 feet × 110 feet, each furnished with miter service and vertical-lift emergency gates.
With the old wicket dams, towboats needed an average of 90 minutes to move barges, often having to split lengthy tows in half to fit. 3 Now, at the new Greenup facility, the process took just 20 minutes as modern tows could pass through seamlessly in one go.
The Greenup Locks and Dam was inaugurated on July 22, 7 8 under the auspices of the Central Ohio Valley Industrial Council. 8 The Ashland Oil & Refining Company managed the event details. Keynote speakers included Secretary of Commerce Luther H. Hodges, Lt. Gen. Walter K. Wilson Jr. of the U.S. Army, Kentucky Governor Bert Combs, and Senator Thruston B. Morton.
The W. T. Love hydroelectric dam began operations on October 1, 1982. 9 Its unique structure, a watertight steel enclosure, was crafted in St. Nazaire, France. 1 The 7,166-ton 9 assembly was transported across the Atlantic and reached its destination via the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. With three turbines, it can produce up to 62 mW of power, which initially supplied electricity to Hamilton, Ohio.
The dam was the idea of W. T. Love, a former Vanceburg hardware store owner and later a superintendent of Hamilton’s utility company. 9 The city sold nearly $125 million in bonds to finance the project.
Between 1984-86, the Jesse Stuart Memorial Bridge was constructed atop the dam, connecting US Route 23 in Kentucky to US Route 52 in Ohio.
The Army Corps of Engineers replaced the upriver set of hydraulic doors on the 1,200-foot-long main chamber over a period of 12 weeks in the spring and summer of 2012 at the cost of $12 million. 1 10 The project was necessitated by the lock system that had outlasted its life expectancy. In recent years, the main lock had been closed for unexpected and costly repairs. In 2009, an arm holding the 240-ton miter doors in place snapped and the door fell to the river’s bottom. Repairs took about a month to complete. The downstream doors were replaced in 2014. 10
For 2012, Greenup Locks and Dam reported handling 50,758,000 tons of cargo, positioning it as the 12th busiest lock system nationwide. 1 It also recorded 5,259 lockages, marking its place as the 23rd most active in the U.S.
- State: Kentucky, Ohio
- Route: N/A
- Type: Dam, Plate Girder
- Status: Active - Other
- Total Length: 1,287'
- “Greenup Locks and Dam.” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
- “Electric Power Playing Important Part In Industrial Expansion On Ohio River.” Messenger-Inquirer, 18 Oct. 1954, p. 3.
- “Greenup Project Inaugurates Ohio-Channel Modernization.” Courier-Journal, 20 Feb. 1955, p. 35.
- “Award Contract For Lock, Dam.” Sandusky Register, 2 Jun. 1958, p. 5.
- “Dam Work to Start.” Messenger-Inquirer, 17 Sept. 1954, p. 13.
- “Greenup Lock, Dam Opened to Traffic.” Herald-Leader, 28 Nov. 1959, p. 3.
- “Greenup Dam Nears Finish.” Courier-Journal, 2 Jul. 1962, p. 22.
- Otto, Bob. “Rain Punctuates Greenup Dam, Lock Dedication.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 23 Jul. 1962, p. 3.
- “Kentucky plant to ship Hamilton power.” Cincinnati Post, 22 Sept. 1982, p. 1B.
- “Work on Greenup Locks and Dam to begin in June.” Paducah Sun, 16 Apr. 1012, p. A2.