The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

February 15, 2013

Program on Lock and Dam 13 history, construction is Sunday


FULTON, Ill. — Benjamin DeRoo, a U.S. park ranger, with the Rock Island, Ill., District Corps of Engineers, will give a PowerPoint presentation at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Martin House Museum, 707 10th Ave. DeRoo will talk about the history and construction of Lock and Dam 13.

While the focus of the presentation will be on the construction, there will be information regarding the lock and dam system. Lock and Dam 13, located in Fulton, is 522.5 miles above the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The Eagle Point Nature Center on the Iowa side is situated on the high bluff directly above the lock and dam. The lock, which is 110 by 600 feet, takes 10 minutes to fill or empty the lock chamber.   

Lock and Dam 13 is one of 29 locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River that provide a water stairway of travel for commercial and recreational traffic from Minneapolis to the Gulf of Mexico. The existing 9-foot Channel Navigation Project was constructed from 1935 to 1939 and extends down the river to the confluence with the Ohio River and up the Illinois waterway.

A 12-page narrative, written by Bud Berzinski, a member of the Fulton Historical Society, includes background information on the history of the Upper Mississippi River and its 9-foot Channel Navigation Project. His booklet includes 19 photos taken by the Corps of Engineers during the construction of the site.

“To understand the capacity and potential of waterway shipping, there are some facts that are important to know: a standard barge can carry 1,500 tons of coal, up to 45,000 bushels of grain or up to 45,000 gallons of petroleum. A towboat, which usually consists of 15 barges, can replace 870 trucks that would stretch 11.5 miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic,” according to Berzinski’s research.

Barge transportation remains more cost efficient. In addition, towboats produce less air pollution, save on highway truck usage and high maintenance costs of railroads. According to the Corps of Engineers, the savings in reduced transportation cost amounts to almost $1 billion a year.

Annual tonnage in 2011, latest statistics available, passing through the local lock was 14,545,373. Farm products accounted for the largest amount at 6,864,313 of the total with chemicals the second highest at 2,256,551. There were 1,391 commercial boats and 1,261 recreation boats that locked through at Lock and Dam 13. There was a total of 2,808 boats, including some light and other boats, but total cuts were at 3,155, which means the barges were split into two operations because the 600-foot lock does not accommodate the current towboat/barge sizes. There were more than 75,000 visitors at Lock and Dam 13 in 2012.

The program will show how the river and jungle-like area was transformed into a waterway adjunct in a larger navigation system on the Mississippi River. Filming with a 9mm camera and professional photographs have been extracted from the Rock Island District Corps of Engineers’s archives for the PowerPoint presentation. Refreshments will be served.