Kentucky Dam

    Kentucky Dam

    The Kentucky Dam, an impoundment of the Tennessee River in western Kentucky, formerly carried the Illinois Central Railroad and US Routes 41 and 62.

    The Kentucky Dam was authorized by an act of Congress on May 23, 1938, and construction began on July 1 by the Tennessee Valley Authority. 1 2 The Illinois Central Railroad (IC), which crossed just downstream of the dam, was rerouted to cross the top of the dam.

    The new dam, with a 110-foot by 600-foot lock, 3 was completed at the cost of $118 million on August 30, 1944. 2 US Routes 41 and 62 were rerouted to atop the dam in 1950.

    Work began on a larger 110-foot by 1,200-foot lock in 1998. 3 Out of concerns of terrorism, it was decided to reroute the railroad and highway away from the dam. In late 2009, a new polygonal Warren through truss bridge was constructed over the Tennessee River downstream from the dam to carry the Paducah & Louisville Railway (IC’s successor). US Route 62 was also diverted away from the dam via a new deck plate girder bridge at the same time. Both new crossings allowed for the dam to be closed to railroad and automobile traffic.


    • State: Kentucky
    • Route: Illinois Central Railroad, US Route 41, US Route 62
    • Type: Girder or Beam
    • Status:
    • Total Length: 1,642 feet
    • Main Span Length: 80 feet
    • Deck Width: 28 feet


    1. “Kentucky.” Tennessee Valley Authority, 2017. Article.
    2. Tennessee Valley Authority, The Kentucky Project: A Comprehensive Report on the Planning, Design, Construction, and Initial Operations of the Kentucky Project, Technical Report No. 13 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1951), pp. 1-12, 68, 115-116, 509.
    3. “New and Improved Kentucky Lock on the Way.” Tennessee Valley Authority, 2016. Article.

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