Salmon Ladder Salmon Bay

DSC04021There are lots of great shots of the Hiram Chittenden Locks, but not so many of the surrounding area. I took this photo from the fish ladder look west. The Ballard Locks (as they’re usually called) are out of the shot on the right. What I love about this photo is the churning water. The fresh water flows from Lake Union and Lake Washington. When it passes through the lock chamber, it rushes out toward Salmon Bay and Puget Sound. As you can imagine, the mixing of fresh and salt water effects the ecosystem. But the locks have been there since 1906. Lets talk plurals. The Ballard Locks only have one “step” but they’re referred to in the plural because there are two side-by-side chambers. The smaller chamber is run almost constantly, raising boats up to the fresh water and lowering them down to the salt water. While the enormous chamber beside it is reserved for massive ships. Sometimes after a heavy rain fall the level and the lakes will rise, and the army corp of Engineers will let more water pass through the locks. By the way, the smaller chamber only takes about 10 minutes to fill. These locks transport more boats than any other lock system in the U.S. In fact, there is so much boat traffic heading in and out of the locks that the train bridge you see is this photo is usually kept in the raised position so the tall boats can move freely. It’s lowered at this moment because a train just passed. And if you’re wondering, the locks are operated 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. And they’re free.



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