Contractors working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District install a 23-foot-tall concrete shaft enclosure weighing approximately 120,000 pounds as part of the guard wall at the Monongahela River Locks and Dam 4 in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, Nov. 16, 2023.

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Groups navigate Fort Loudoun Lock to learn locking process

Nashville District Public Affairs
Published Oct. 3, 2022
Recreation Vessel “Betsye” out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, navigates downstream Sept. 29, 2022, on the Tennessee River into Fort Loudoun Lock in Lenoir City, Tennessee, as members of the Fort Loudoun Yacht Club begin a tour to learn about navigation. (USACE Photo by Lee Roberts)

Recreation Vessel “Betsye” out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, navigates downstream Sept. 29, 2022, on the Tennessee River into Fort Loudoun Lock in Lenoir City, Tennessee, as members of the Fort Loudoun Yacht Club begin a tour to learn about navigation. (USACE Photo by Lee Roberts)

A large group of Tellico Village New Villagers look into the lock chamber during a tour Sept. 29, 2022, at Fort Loudoun Lock on the Tennessee River in Lenoir City, Tennessee. (USACE Photo by Lee Roberts)

A large group of Tellico Village New Villagers look into the lock chamber during a tour Sept. 29, 2022, at Fort Loudoun Lock on the Tennessee River in Lenoir City, Tennessee. (USACE Photo by Lee Roberts)

Lock Operator Josh Shockey (wearing reflective vest) leads a tour Sept. 29, 2022, of Fort Loudoun Lock on the Tennessee River in Lenoir City, Tennessee. The Tellico Village New Villagers were learning about navigation and what it takes to maintain and operate the lock. (USACE Photo by Lee Roberts)

Lock Operator Josh Shockey (wearing reflective vest) leads a tour Sept. 29, 2022, of Fort Loudoun Lock on the Tennessee River in Lenoir City, Tennessee. The Tellico Village New Villagers were learning about navigation and what it takes to maintain and operate the lock. (USACE Photo by Lee Roberts)

The Houseboat “Floating Aloan” exits Fort Loudoun Lock Sept. 29, 2022, on the Tennessee River in Lenoir City, Tennessee. The Tellico Village New Villagers were able to see the houseboat go through the lock chamber while learning about navigation and what it takes to maintain and operate the lock. (USACE Photo by Lee Roberts)

The Houseboat “Floating Aloan” exits Fort Loudoun Lock Sept. 29, 2022, on the Tennessee River in Lenoir City, Tennessee. The Tellico Village New Villagers were able to see the houseboat go through the lock chamber while learning about navigation and what it takes to maintain and operate the lock. (USACE Photo by Lee Roberts)

Lock Operator Josh Shockey (wearing reflective vest) leads a group of homeschoolers from Christian Academy of Knoxville on a tour Sept. 29, 2022, of Fort Loudoun Lock on the Tennessee River in Lenoir City, Tennessee. (USACE Photo by Lee Roberts)

Lock Operator Josh Shockey (wearing reflective vest) leads a group of homeschoolers from Christian Academy of Knoxville on a tour Sept. 29, 2022, of Fort Loudoun Lock on the Tennessee River in Lenoir City, Tennessee. (USACE Photo by Lee Roberts)

Lock Operator Josh Shockey (wearing reflective vest) leads a group of Tellico Village New Villagers on a tour Sept. 29, 2022, of Fort Loudoun Lock on the Tennessee River in Lenoir City, Tennessee. (USACE Photo by Lee Roberts)

Lock Operator Josh Shockey (wearing reflective vest) leads a group of Tellico Village New Villagers on a tour Sept. 29, 2022, of Fort Loudoun Lock on the Tennessee River in Lenoir City, Tennessee. (USACE Photo by Lee Roberts)

Tellico Village New Villagers get to see water being discharged from the lock chamber during a tour Sept. 29, 2022, at Fort Loudoun Lock on the Tennessee River in Lenoir City, Tennessee. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District operates and maintains the navigation lock at the Tennessee Valley Authority project. (USACE Photo by Lee Roberts)

Tellico Village New Villagers get to see water being discharged from the lock chamber during a tour Sept. 29, 2022, at Fort Loudoun Lock on the Tennessee River in Lenoir City, Tennessee. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District operates and maintains the navigation lock at the Tennessee Valley Authority project. (USACE Photo by Lee Roberts)

Members of the Fort Loudoun Yacht Club, Tellico Village New Villagers, and Christian Academy of Knoxville homeschoolers navigated Fort Loudoun Lock Sept. 29, 2022. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District staff explained to each group during their visit that the lock makes it possible for boaters to go upstream and downstream through the dam. The lock is located at Tennessee River mile 602.3 in Lenoir City, Tennessee. The Nashville District operates and maintains the navigation lock at the Tennessee Valley Authority project. Primary commodities that move through Fort Loudoun Lock are liquid asphalt, scrap metal, sand, and salt. About 400,000 to 500,000 tons of bulk commodities move through the lock each year. As many as 1,500 recreational vessels also utilize the lock annually. (USACE Video by Lee Roberts) #Waterways #Navigation #USACE #NashvilleCorps

LENOIR CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 3, 2022) – Several local groups recently navigated Fort Loudoun Lock to see the lock chamber and learn about the locking process.

Lock Operator Josh Shockey welcomed members of the Fort Loudoun Yacht Club, Tellico Village New Villagers, and Christian Academy of Knoxville homeschoolers throughout the day Sept. 29 and explained to each group how the lock makes it possible for boaters to go upstream and downstream through the dam.

“I tried to not only explain how things work, but also explain why they are important,” Shockey said. “People don’t always know what infrastructure has inside of it, all of the things and moving parts, and while this is a small part of the infrastructure, it is still an important one.”

Shockey led each group along the walkway surrounding the lock chamber, took questions, and provided insight about how the lock staff operates and maintains the project in support of government, commercial and recreational interests. He also provided advice for boaters planning to navigate through the lock, especially boaters that have never passed through a lock.

“Almost everyone is afraid of doing something they have never done before. Having an idea of what you’re doing, even if it is a set of rules or just guidelines, it lets you know where to go and where not to go,” Shockey said. “It’s important to have patience. We’re working as hard as we can to get you through safely and efficiently.

Fort Loudoun Lock went into operation Oct. 10, 1943, at Tennessee River mile 602.3 in Lenoir City, Tennessee. It is about 55 miles downstream from Knoxville and is the uppermost dam on the Tennessee River. The navigation lock is a Tennessee Valley Authority project, but operated and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District.

The primary commodities that move through Fort Loudoun Lock are liquid asphalt, scrap metal, sand, and salt. About 400,000 to 500,000 tons of bulk commodities are moved through the lock each year.

As many as 1,500 recreational vessels utilize the lock each year, providing access to the lake, which also provides a relatively easy water transportation route to destinations from the dam to Knoxville. The “Volunteer Navy” routinely navigates through the lock on its way to Saturday football games at the University of Tennessee.

Commodore Kyler Wooley with the Fort Loudoun Yacht Club said his group is a huge advocate of Fort Loudoun Lake, Watts Bar Lake, and Chickamauga Lake, so understanding how to use the navigation locks is an important aspect of traveling up and down the Tennessee River.

“Today has been enlightening for us to know you can’t raise or lower the lock faster or slower. Certain regulations don’t allow us to go through (the lock) with barges,” Wooley said. “So a lot of great information was shared with our members about how we can better navigate and schedule our trips through the various locks.”

Homeschoolers associated with the Christian Academy of Knoxville learned that it takes a well-trained staff to maintain the lock and to keep it operating in support of the Inland Waterway System. Corps employees shared information about internship and employment opportunities with the Corps of Engineers, noting how different vocations are needed to support the work at a navigation lock.

The lock’s four maintenance positions include an electrician with an industrial electricity vocational degree, and three mechanics with specialized training and experience in the assembly, disassembly, and repair of the lock’s equipment. The maintenance staff and lock operators possess a variety of other trade skills such as welding, basic machining, plumbing, carpentry and HVAC repair. Some also operate cranes and forklifts.

Homeschooler Evan Smith of Farragut, Tennessee, said he had no idea really how a navigation lock worked, but said it was great to learn about the history of the dam and the science behind it. He said it was helpful to understand that a lock is basically a water elevator for boats to move upstream and downstream through a dam.

Smith said it is amazing that about 11 million gallons of water are emptied from the lock chamber or put into it every time boats move through the lock, and that it takes about 20 minutes to fill or empty the lock.

“It was awesome. I really had no idea how things worked,” Smith said.  

The lock staff also welcomed new residents of Tellico Village, which also boasts a yacht club and private docks. The village organizes tours of Fort Loudoun Lock, so its members are aware of how to use the lock when boating.

Neil Koellish organized the tour for the new villagers and said activities like visiting Fort Loudoun Lock helps them to become more familiar with the area.

“It’s just interesting to see how the whole lock system works here. I’ve been through the Panama Canal, so I’m not completely unfamiliar with how a lock works. I’ve seen this one from the road driving by many times,” Koellish said. “Some of these people have boats and they possibly may want to go through the lock at some point.”

Lockmaster Matt Emmons said it is satisfying to host different stakeholders from nearby communities that have an interest in the river and mission of the Corps of Engineers.

“It’s incredibly important that we offer these opportunities to a diverse group of different river interests and enthusiasts,” Emmons said. “It’s exciting to catch the Tellico Village ‘New Villagers’ contingent with a lock tour when they first move here after retirement, so they are immediately encouraged to come lock through with their boats as well.”

Emmons thanked his staff at the lock for supporting the public outreach activities, and specifically recognized Shockey for leading the lock tours and Work Leader Greg Cox, who routinely assumes much of the lockmaster role, and who covered all the logistics and preparations with his maintenance staff to make the tours a success. He also credited Tennessee Valley Authority Police Inspector Stephen Harris for attending and ensuring a safe and secure environment for the tours.

The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps. The public can also follow Fort Loudoun Lock on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/fortloudounlock.

Follow us on LinkedIn for the latest Nashville District employment and contracting opportunities at https://www.linkedin.com/company/u-s-army-corps-of-engineers-nashville-district. #Jobs #Contracting


Chick Lock

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