Sunday, May 14, 2017

MWRD: Lockport Powerhouse Spillway and First Lock

I have already posted external and internal views of the Lockport Powerhouse. This MWRD posting gives me an excuse to find my old (1907) lock and spillway photos.

MWRD posted
A view looking south from the top of the dam between the original MWRD lock, at left, and the Lockport Powerhouse, at right, on June 19, 1923, in Lockport, Illinois.
This picture still has the railroad trestle that was built to move equipment into the powerhouse for construction and maintenance.

The concrete structure on the left is the west wall of the original lock. When that lock was opened in 1907, it had the highest lift in the world at 38 feet. [Sign on chain link fence by the lock.] (HAER says that it had a 40' lift and that it was completed in 1910. AmericanCanals says 41'.)

Please see AmericanCanals for some historical photos of the lock.

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During a tour of the powerhouse, we were able to walk over the spillway to a chain link fence around the old lock. Here we are over the spillway and looking south. The east wall of the powerhouse is on the right. The concrete structure this side of the still-water canal in the middle of the picture is the old lock. The further concrete wall is the west side of the current Illinois Waterway lock.
I wish they had used handrails instead of chain link. To rub salt in the wound, I see the camera focused on the fence. It normally doesn't do that. Nonetheless, we can see the wood upstream gate.
Unlike the downstream gate, which must be the full height of the lock's lift, the upstream gate only has to be as high as the depth of the shipping channel. You can clearly see the bottom shelf of the gate. In spite of the fence, you can also see part of the bottom of the lock.
Normally, you would not see the bottom of the lock because water that is the depth of the shipping channel would remain in the lock.

Peaking out from under one of the chain links in the above photo is the CN/EJ&E lift bridge.
There were actually two upstream gates. The one we saw above is just to the right of the steel walkway. This one makes you appreciate that the other gate is in pretty good shape.
I held the camera next to a hole in the fence to grab a shot of the current lock. I see a 700' marker, so we are a ways from seeing the upstream gate.
Now I turn my attention to the spillway.

As we walked across it to the lock, I took his upstream view to capture the top of the sluice gate, the debris screen, and the floating debris.
This is the view on the other side looking down the spillway.
The tour guide opened up the gate while I was still by the lock. You can see the beginning of the flow in this picture.
The flow quickly ramped up.
The flow was working its way to the end of the spillway.
As we walked back across the spillway to the powerhouse, the water was at full flow.
The turbulence of the water flow, especially the top few feed, reminds me that this spillway is an old 1907 design. Modern spillways use an Ogee Crest to avoid a turbulent flow over and down the spillway. See the end of that posting for several more pictures of this spillway that I used to illustrate the turbulence caused by an old-fashioned straight spillway design.
I walked to the end of the spillway canal to get an overview shot. The flowing water makes it obvious where the spillway is. The old lock is on the right. The east end of the powerhouse is on the left. The tent was set up so MWRD people say a few words as part of the tour. They were running tour groups all day.
They also had some historical photos set up for the tour. This one not only shows water running, it shows the service railroad is still intact. It also shows at least four smokestacks in the Joliet area pouring out black smoke.
Update:
MWRD posted
Historical Photo of the Week: Excavation of the channel extension south of the Lockport Powerhouse on January 31, 1906.

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