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

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Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Center Gates Removal

Jan 2024 Center Gate progress photo from Greg Shaw


 Here's something you might see every 107 years or so. The center gates at the large lock were being removed recently and will be replaced late next year. This will necessarily cause disruptions in the use of the large lock as it will be closed for extended periods of time until the new gates are installed. Here's a link to the Army Corps page with projected dates for the closures.

Large lock closure information 


Both gates were removed late in the night so the public missed a great photo opportunity but for several days it was possible to see the work crews preparing for the rarely performed procedure. We know the gates were removed at least once before in 1973, brought to Tacoma for repairs and reinstalled again. Here's a few pics of the process.


Crane and barges entering large lock


Center gates partially open in preparation for removal

Using torch to burn through wood fender on gate

Axes, chainsaws, torches and crowbars were all used in cutting through the wood before installing the equipment used in lifting the gate from lock. on deck of the large crane was this smaller crane used in bringing the crew close enough to the gate to complete the process.

Here's a small video of a chainsaw in use to cut away a section of the wood fender.

 Chainsaw at work.


Photo by Fred Mitchell and published in Seattle Times Oct 18, 2023



In the meantime, the small lock also needed a little TLC. 

Small lock getting some attention

While all employees were hard at work, there was one who was clearly just phoning it in.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

The Center Miter Gates Are Leaving Us

We received the following information today and will copy it from the Chittenden Locks Facebook page. Sounds like a great time and not to be missed. A bit of history is in the making.

The links below will direct you to a site where you can purchase the official tshirt. There doesn't seem to be any other registration information or requirements. If you have any questions, please direct them to Discover Your Northwest who are organizing this event.

(From the Facebook post) ...

Grab your family, friends and your running shoes 👟 for a commemorative Great Miter Retire 5K Fun Run at 10 am, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, at!
Our large lock center miter gates are the original gates and have facilitated navigation since 1916.
This October, we'll start work to replace them. Improving this 106-year-old navigation infrastructure will help us provide dependable navigation for the next 100+ years.
Walk 🚶‍♂️ 🚶‍♀️ or run 🏃‍♀️ 🏃 along these engineering marvels one last time during this fun run that'll start and end at these gates.
Registration is now open. Click 👉 or scan the QC code, to register or for more info. 
All registration funds will go toward supporting new exhibits in our fish ladder viewing room.
Here's our upcoming extended large lock center gate closure schedule: Lock Closure Schedule
Discover Your Northwest

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Lock Wall Roses at Small Lock Operating House Four

 Researched and written by Stephen Munro, gardener at the Chittenden Locks.

Teddy Roosevelt with rose in lapel

Operating House Four sits adjacent the small locks and is where lock attendants control
the valves and gates for those locks. Two large rose bushes seemingly burst out of the
desolate concrete of the lock wall monolith on the west and east sides of this structure.
The one on the west side is nearly thornless with large very fragrant double purple
flowers. The other, on the east side has large double pinks flowers that are also very,
very fragrant. Both appear to bloom seemingly all growing season from late-May to


Rose Bush on western side


Friday, May 26, 2023

2023 Music At The Locks Summer Schedule

 The schedule for music concerts at the locks during the summer weekends is now available. They're free to attend and donations are appreciated. Come early to get your folding chair and enjoy some great music on the lawn.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Feb. 2 - Anniversary of the First Filling of the Locks

This post was first published in 2018. We've added some new content below the original article. In the article from the Seattle Post Intelligencer it names machinist Carl Sjogren as the individual who actually opened the valves admitting water into the chambers. If there are any descendants of Carl Sjogren who see this post, please send any photos or information you might have of his time at the Chittenden Locks. We'd be happy to add yet more local flavor to this post.


In our own archives we've discovered a group photo where Carl Sjogren can be seen. He's standing in the back row, second from the right. This picture is dated August 1932, for a yet unknown occasion. We've also learned that he started working at the locks in 1912, while they were under construction, until his retirement in 1944. In the 1920 Census he had apparently changed the legal spelling of his name to Seagren. His death occurred in July 1953 in Mount Vernon, an area where he had lived before starting work at the locks. Perhaps the local Nordic community might like to propose that next Feb 2, could be named Carl Sjogren Day, after the machinist who first opened the valves to begin the first filling of the large lock chamber.