Seattle Travel

Ballard Ship Locks

Lake Washington Ship Canal

If you drive out to Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood – you can see a marvel of the Army Corps of Engineering. The Ballard locks allow boats to move from Salmon Bay to Lake Union – two bodies of water with much different water levels. The locks is basically a dam that opens and closes – and boats can move on a “boat elavator” to transfer between the bodies of water.

Seattle Drawbridge

The hardy operators of the locks bring in as many boats as they can possibly fit – big and small – and then release water either from the boat area, or into the boat area to rise or lower the water level as needed. Then the boats sail on to the next body of water (lake or bay).

Seattle Dam Locks Open

Seattle Locks – Open for Boats to Enter

There is also a fish ladder in the area which lets large salmon move between the bodies of water safely – you can see the salmon very up close in the fish ladder glass viewing area.

The Water Rises or Lowers to Transfer the Boats

The locks were completed in 1917 and are vital to transportation around Seattle and Puget Sound. There is a free visitor center with a film, history, and book shop. There are also very well-informed volunteers who can answer any question you might have on the locks. They even gave us free tatoos for our kids. Around the locks is a beautiful walking garden that very few people take advantage of. The garden also offers amazing views above the locks you should not miss.

Sculpture Seattle

Sculpture in the Locks Area near the Fish Ladder

The locks can elevate a 760 foot x 80 foot wide vessel by 26 feet in about 15 minutes. Over a million tons of cargo move through the locks and the Lake Washington ship canal annually. The locks is a vital part of the maritime industry for the Northwest USA. The locks are a boundary between freshwater and saltwater bodies of water in a masterpiece of engineering.

Seattle Locks Location and Phone Contact:

3015 NW 54th Street – Seattle, WA 98107 206-783-7059 (Visitor Center)

Locks WPA Building Seattle
Beautiful Architecture in the Locks Complex

The gardens was originally just gravel left from the construction site. A gardener in 1931 transformed the grounds by corresponding with botanists and assistance of sea captains bringing in trees and flowers from the around the world to this English estate style garden. The dawn redwood is one of the unique plants brought to the United States for the gardens. You can also see varieties of poppy, foxglove, and fuchsia in more than 575 species of plants in the garden.

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