Ballard Locks, also known as the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks are the biggest carriers of the boats and water traffic not only in Washington but the whole USA. Located at the Salmon Bay on its western most end, the locks hold a significant position for torusim where people around the world visit here to find out the amazing facts regarding their beautiful architecture. These astounding locks were constructed in 1911 and took 7 years to morph into their final shape. The design for the dam and locks was structured by the popular architect Charles A.D Young while the responsibility for the construction of the support buildings was handed over to Bebb and Gould.
The Fish Ladder on these locks is the biggest spot in Seattle for the travelers from abroad to visit attracting not less than a million visitors on annual basis.
The biggest effect of the locks’ construction was on the topography of Seattle when the water level of Lake Union and Lake Washington dropped by approximately 9 feet culminating in the big transformation which reversed the water flow of the rivers. Besides, it gave way to a waterfront land distancing not less than miles.
Purpose of the Ballard Locks:
The locks are operational for 3 main reasons. The first is to regulate the fresh water above the sea water level on Lake Union and Lake Washington. The impure salted water or seawater come from the inlet of Puget sound. The second purpose served by the locks is to artificially prevent from mixing the sea water of Puget Sound and Fresh water of the two Lakes. The last purpose covered is to allow the boats to mobilize from the fresh water to the sea water level and vice versa.
The Fish Ladder that you previously read about is the most famous center of the Ballard Locks which is constructed to allow the Salmon Fish and other anadromous fishes migrate easily between these water levels.
The locks come into play when the water level drops in summers and the preserved water is then released into the lakes. There are two locks in total. Due to immense traffic throughout the year, the second lock is made operational for draining out the water in excess without hampering the business of the boats.
The M. Chittenden Locks are also a salt water barrier which has made possible the sustainability of the ecosystem in this complex zone. A basin was constructed on the locks where the salted water due to its heaviness settles and then is drained via a pipeline which separates the salt water from the freshwater allowing many fishes to survive.