Preserving the History of the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Seattle, Washington

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Totems by the Locks

Totem opposite the locks at Red Mill Totem House

A gentleman recently asked a question about the existence of totem poles on the Ballard Locks property.  He remembered visiting the locks about 50 years ago and noticing several totems poles positioned by the small lock.  He asked if the Archival/History Unit could verify his recollection. 

So far, we have not been able to verify that the locks ever had any totem poles within its boundaries.   We did find a 1939 newspaper article about a replica of a single totem pole that was being carved in the Haida style.  At that time, it was going to be installed in front of a curio shop at the corner of Seaview and 32nd Avenue North West just across from the Ballard locks.

More recently and far more well-known, is "The Story of North Island" totem pole located by the Montlake Cut on the southeast bank.  It is the work of Haida Chief John Dewey Wallace.  He carved it in Alaska in 1937 for display outside of a cannery.  When the cannery closed, the totem pole was removed and lost to public view until 1981 when it resurfaced and was purchased by a local preservation group.  It was dedicated in 1983 and still stands on property owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers with the actual statue owned by the city of Seattle.  In keeping with tribal tradition, the totem overlooks the water.

To readers of blog:  if you know of or have heard about the existence of totem poles in the actual Ballard Locks area, please contact the FOBL.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Summer Concerts Coming Soon

Once again the summer concerts at the locks are at hand. Check out the schedule on the calendar to the right under the Pages heading. It's a great way to enjoy the summer days. The rangers have a supply of chairs available or you can bring your own lawn chairs or blankets and enjoy the music. There's a wide variety of musical styles so there should be something for everyone! The series opens up on May 31 with:

Sunday May 31 2:00 p.m. Boeing Employees Concert Band- lively marches to show tunes and classics

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Lake Water Levels To Rise

The Army Corps of Engineers have announced the early raising of the Lake Washington water levels with the following message. The link below will lead to further information concerning the Corps' management of many of our waterways. Much more work than most of us are aware of and definitely a topic we will be learning much more about in the future.

"We are raising Lake Washington to the target summer elevation a couple weeks earlier than normal due to extremely low inflows to Lake Washington. The lake is currently at elevation 21.9 feet, which is typical for early May and consistent with normal annual operation. However, given the extreme low water supply situation, we intend to refill to an elevation of 22 feet in the next week or two instead of the June 1 date typically targeted. Vessel owners should closely monitor lake elevations and adjust mooring lines as necessary. Lake Washington’s status is available on the Reservoir Control Center website at "

Also worth keeping in mind is the Corps' Facebook site which will have many interesting photos as well as important announcements concerning closures, maintenance schedules and public events.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Seal Rescue

During the emptying of the large lock, a seal remained in the chamber. Before the work could start on the maintenance of the lock, the seal would have to be caught and released in the sound. Here are a few pics of the process which had a happy conclusion even if the process was somewhat stressful for all involved. Thanks to the Corps employees for posting the pics on their blog site.

Army Corps of Engineers Chittenden Locks Facebook Page
Harbor seal netted

Ready to start the removal.

The seal gets a ride.

The seal gets a birds eye view.
The large lock minus boats water and seal.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Large Lock Closure

The Us Army Corps of Engineers has posted a notice for the temporary closing of the large lock.

SEATTLE – The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks large chamber will close to vessel traffic from 7 a.m., Oct. 7 to 7 p.m., Oct.  9. Follow the link below for more information.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials are test drilling for an upgrade of the large lock’s emergency closure system. The Small Lock will continue operations.


Monday, August 25, 2014

August 2014 Garden Photos

Our student volunteer, Emily Dunn, has once again brought her camera on a walk through the gardens and has provided these photos for all to enjoy. There will be more weeks with which to enjoy these scenes up close and personal but until you make it to the locks ... enjoy these. Thanks again, Emily!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Summer at the Locks

As summer is drawing to a close, it's worth reminding ourselves that we still have plenty more time to enjoy an outing at the locks. The concert season is continuing with jazz and classical music scheduled for Aug. 16 and 17 respectively and there is also a classic pre 1950's car show on the grounds on the 16th. Here is a link to the full schedule: Summer concerts and events at the locks.  

Some recent concerts featured latin music, a sedentary(!) marching band and a ukulele orchestra with a grab bag of genres.
Musica Molida

Relaxed Ukes

Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band

Here are some photos taken by a new volunteer, Kendra, at the recent fuchsia show.

Kendra also contributed these photos from a stroll around the grounds. Enjoy these and come down for your own stroll and enjoy the summer weather.