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Council celebrates Centennial of Ballard Locks


Recognizing one of the busiest waterways in the U.S.


The idea of connecting what is now called Lake Washington and Lake Union to the Puget Sound was a concept discussed by the early settlers of the region, but it wasn’t until 1917 that the vision became a reality. The Metropolitan King County Council today celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, better known as the Ballard Locks.

“The Ballard Locks are a local treasure for residents, visitors and school classes,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, whose district includes the famed waterway, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. “History and function come together at the Locks to create an experience that can include walking through the surrounding botanical gardens, learning about the locks as an essential pathway for migratory salmon and enjoying the fish ladder viewing room, or touring the vital infrastructure.”

In 1854, Thomas Mercer, one of the first settlers in the region, proposed the creation of a system to connect the region’s freshwater lakes to the saltwater of Puget Sound. After the Civil War, the U.S. Navy endorsed the project, but it wasn’t until 1911—under the command of Major Hiram M. Chittenden, the Seattle district engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers—that work on the locks began. On July 4, 1917, more than 200 vessels and half of the population of the city Seattle celebrated the opening of the locks.

Along with the 50,000 boats, ships and the occasional kayak that passes through the locks, thousands of salmon take advantage of the nearby salmon ladder to make their migration from the ocean to their freshwater spawning grounds.

The views of the spawning salmon, along with chance to watch ships rise and drop into Puget Sound and the nearby lakes, has made the Ballard Locks one of the top tourist attractions in the region.

Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and
the Queen Anne Historical Society with members after the Council
recognized the Centennial of the Ballard Locks


WHEREAS, 63 years before its completion, Thomas Mercer first proposed the unique idea of creating a connection where fresh and salt water meet in Seattle; and

WHEREAS, Maj. Hiram M. Chittenden found the need for a masonry lock in 1907, with federal funds allocated in 1910; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers oversaw the construction of the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and has managed its operation to this day; and

WHEREAS, on July 4th, 1917, more than half the City of Seattle’s population lined the shores and watched as more than 200 boats paraded through the cuts and Lake Union into Lake Washington;

WHEREAS, the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, also known as the Ballard Locks, has provided a critical passage for commerce and recreation for the people of Seattle and King County for 100 years; and

WHEREAS, with nearly 50,000 vessels per year, the Ballard Locks move more traffic than any other in the United States; and

WHEREAS, the Ballard Locks’ fish ladder provides an invaluable educational experience for visiting school children; and

WHEREAS, the Ballard Locks are a designated National Historic Site and attract more than one million visitors per year; and

WHEREAS, HistoryLink and over 30 historical museums and societies lining the waterways of King County have brought these events to life for the people of Washington State; and

WHEREAS, there will be a centennial commemoration at the Ballard Locks on July 4th, 2017, at 10:00 a.m.;

NOW, THEREFORE, we, the Metropolitan King County Council, recognize the


upon its centennial for its continuing significance and service to the people of Seattle and King County.

DATED this twenty sixth day of June, 2017.

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