My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Friday, May 5, 2017

Elevators of the Marine Kind

May 3, 2017

Teri took me for a short visit to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks that ferry boats from kayaks to ships up to 760 feet long and 26 feet wide from the level of Puget Sound to the level of Salmon Bay, a 26' difference, in 10 - 15 minutes.

This day turned into a day so clear we could see all the way to snow covered mountains

When we arrived, a tug pushing a barge with piles of gravel on it was just entering the lock.  The pictures will tell the rest of the story.

Tug and barge entering the lock - water is the same level as the water behind the tug

Tug boat and barge are inside the lock and the gates are starting to close.

The gates continue to close and the tug/barge slowly move forward to just before the next gate -
 watch the green on the side walls of the lock

A lock worker has a rope attached to the barge and is walking across the lock from our position

Hostess Teri watches as the tugboat and barge pull up almost to the front gate

In a short time - I think only 10-12 minutes, the water has almost lifted the combo 26 feet up -
 it will get to the top of the green

The front gate opens - when closed, they form walkways across the locks

The gates have opened in the front and the barge has started to exit

Heading out of the lock

Besides the large lock, there is a smaller one that takes care of most of the private boats.

In the small lock

Ships pass from low to high and then the next seems to pass from high to low so the water can be used for ships in each direction without having to be changed.

A tour boat enters the lock - touring via this boat would be another fun adventure

Waiting to use the locks

All are welcome here

 Besides the locks, there is a dam and on the far side are fish ladders. Saddly, this is not yet the season for fish to be using them.

The dam with a wet walkway over it to the fish ladders on the far side and then to a park area where people were sunbathing

View from the dam crossing

These are almost to the fish ladders

Fish on tiles in the room with windows to watch fish swimming up the fish ladders

The park area on the far side of the locks and dam has a great blue heron rookery.  We counted some 20 nests there. The birds are just about to sit on eggs.  Many birds were on the nests but some nest watchers didn't think nesting had started yet as many birds were still bringing in sticks. 

I can (barely) see you hiding in the nest

View from the fish ladder side of the locks- the dam is just behind the greenery

This is a free site. and is one of the top ten things to see in Seattle.  The commercial ships fund everything,  including a lovely visitor center with great displays and informative videos. You will have to pay for parking, though.  There is also a small botanical garden on the grounds but we ran out of time before we got to it.

And the designer of the locks, Hiram M. Chittenton, designed other stuff, including the Yellowstone Arch and its road system.