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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Zebulon Pike Lock and Dam (#11)
ZEBULON PIKE LOCK AND DAM. Major navigational improvement on the Upper MISSISSIPPI RIVER.
Construction of the locks ranks was one of the major construction projects ever attempted. Photo Courtesy: Bob Reding

Work on the lock and dam, named for famed explorer Zebulon Montgomery PIKE, began in 1933 with the construction of the locks. That work was completed on July 21, 1935. Construction of the dam was started on September 30, 1935. The facility was first put into operation on September 13, 1937 when W. A. Turner, the resident engineer and lock master of the dam, pressed a button closing the last of the thirteen tainter gates. The day was closed because no tow boats operated by Inland Waterways Corporation were due to pass at the locks. It was expected that the locks would be fully functional three days after the gates were lowered. Small pleasure boats were not stopped. A small spot on the Wisconsin side of the dam was left open for their passage. The water there was three feet deep.

The eleventh of, at the time, twenty-six LOCKS and dams between St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, and St. Louis, Missouri, the locks cost $1,470,000 to construct. The dam, at 4,818 feet was one of the largest on the river. The lift section of the dam measured 1,278 feet. The gates were 30 feet high and 55 feet long.

Workers are hardly visible within the soon-to-be-completed lock. Photo Courtesy: Bob Reding
The total cost of the project came to $7,443,000 including land acquisition and site preparation. As many as 1,000 workers were employed at the site at one time. Although it was announced that as many as four deaths could be expected on a project of this size, only two workers were killed. Harold Arendt fell to his death; Ardenal Thompson was fatally struck on the head by a stern-operated clam shovel. (Photo Courtesy: Daniel Callahan)



"Eagle Point Locks, Gates Are Closed, " Telegraph-Herald. Sept. 14, 1937, p. 1 and 9

Special thanks to Joe Schallan.