so this post is going to be mostly pictures. on wednesday, i went with my kids and my parents over to the hiram m. chittenden locks – better known as the ballard locks. i hadn’t been since i was a kid, and my mom and i had been talking all year about getting shane over there for a sort of educational field trip.
it was a gorgeous day, and there was lots of activity at the locks. in case you’re not inclined to click on the link above and are unaware of the functions of the locks, this is directly from that site:
The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks are a complex of locks that sit in the middle of Salmon Bay, part of Seattle's Lake Washington Ship Canal. They are known locally as the Ballard Locks after the neighborhood to their north. (Magnolia lies to the south.)
The locks and associated facilities serve three purposes:
- To maintain the water level of the fresh water Lake Washington and Lake Union at 20 to 22 feet above sea level.
- To prevent the mixing of sea water from Puget Sound with the fresh water of the lakes (saltwater intrusion).
- To move boats from the water level of the lakes to the water level of Puget Sound, and vice versa.
The complex includes two locks, a small (30 x 150 ft, 8.5 x 45.7 meter) and a large (80 x 825, 24.4 x 251.5 meter). The complex also includes a (235-foot, 71.6 meter) spillway with six (32 x 12-foot (3.7 m), 9.8 x 3.7 meter) gates to assist in water-level control. A fish ladder is integrated into the locks for migration of anadromous fish, notably salmon.
we’ll just say that it is fascinating! my favorite part was this tugboat which was pulling a HUGE barge/warehouse through. pay attention to the water level in all these pictures. here it is totally full. they are coming from the lake union side, and heading out into the sound, likely on to alaska. see the water level has gone down some. and even more… and more… this is all the way down. the walkways are on top of the ‘gates’ which open and close to let boats in and out and/or keep the water in when the levels are different. now that the water level is down and even with what’s behind those gates, they open them (after everyone is off the walkway, of course). all the way open. and here goes the tugboat. and there goes the barge. and out into puget sound. on the other side, are the smaller set of locks, for smaller watercraft, such as sailboats, commanded by shirtless, kilt-wearing pirates. here they are, tied up, water level high… and here, with the water level all the way down. and there they go… i’m not sure whether to wish them “ahoy, mateys” or… whatever the traditional scottish thing would be to say in such a situation. and now for some pictures with actual people in them. next to the locks is a dam. you can cross it (WAY outside my comfort zone, but i did it) and down underneath, they have windows built into it where you can see various kinds of salmon migrating upstream. well, you can, but not in june. these 3 tiny fish were about all we could see, so it wasn’t very exciting. not sure if that bird was a crane or a heron or what, but it was huge and went swooping over us while crossing the dam. after this, we headed over to greenlake to have lunch at SPUD – the BEST fish n chips EVER!!! why i didn’t take a picture of my lunch, i don’t know. maybe because it was GONE before i had a chance to think of it. YUM-O! after that, i took the kids across the street to run around a little and check out the lake, where we saw lots of… DUCKS! layla was ready to jump right in, and shane asked if we could come back later so he could bring his swimsuit (it was already close to 3, so that was a NO). i’m seeing plenty of trips over there this summer though.
well, i’d say that’s about enough educational stuff for one post, eh?