Chickamauga Navigation Lock

Published Jan. 11, 2024
Chickamauga Navigation Lock and dam

Chickamauga Navigation Lock and dam

Chickamauga Lock is  located at Tennessee River mile 471 only 6.9 miles above Chattanooga, Tennessee.

It is 58.9 river miles downstream of Watts Bar Lock and 46.3 miles upriver from Nickajack Lock.

Lock History

TVA commenced preliminary investigation for the Chickamauga project during May 1935, and the Board of Directors authorized its construction on Dec. 31, 1935.  Construction of the Chickamauga project started in Jan. 13, 1936 and was opened to navigation in 1939.
The name Chickamauga came from a warlike tribe of Chickamauga Indians, who had separated from the main body of the Cherokee Indians.  The band was a mix of Cherokee and Creek warriors, white fugitives, and some African Americans who collectively took the name Chickamauga   The Chickamauga lived in a village nearly a mile in length on Chickamauga Creek several miles above the mouth.  According to Mr. John P. Long in his history of Hamilton County, Chickamauga means dull, sluggish stream.

Concrete Growth

Chickamauga Lock has growing concrete in it's structure, which is a reaction between the alkali in the cement and the minerals in the stone.  This growing concrete has brought many problems – in some places large chunks of concrete have broken loose from the lock walls – and because the massive blocks that make up the lock have expanded at different rates, the top of the structure is uneven.  Lengthwise, the lock has actually grown five inches inside the lock chamber.  The approach walls have grown even more.  Corps of Engineers and TVA working together continues making temporary repairs to the project spending large maintenance dollars.  Corps and TVA have determined that Chickamauga Lock does have a finite life.

Area History

Chickamauga Lock is located in the heart of what was Cherokee Indian lands.  The Cherokee had control of the entire Tennessee River Valley and built many large towns along this particular stretch of the river.
Later, settlers began setting up posts along the river and its tributaries.  One of the early trading posts called Ross' Landing was established near the site of the lock.  This post eventually became the city of Chattanooga.
Early Tennessee River navigation was hindered by the narrows below Chattanooga, where spots known as the Suck, the Skillet, and the Boiling Pot challenged even the most skilled boatmen.

(Go to the Tennessee Valley Authority Chickamauga Reservoir web page for more information about this project)