Ballard Locks celebrates 100th birthday

It is hard to believe that one hundred years ago, on August 3, 1916, the first vessel officially locked thought the now famous Locks here in Ballard.

Back in 1916, The U.S. Engineering Department workboat Orcas made trial lockages in the large lock in February and in the small lock in July, however, the informal opening celebration was held August 3.

The official dedication for the Lake Washington Ship Canal was held on July 4, 1917, the date on which the official 100 year celebrations will be held next year.

In celebration of the momentous occasion, the My Ballard team wanted to share a selection of photos taken at the Locks over the past 100 years:


The above photo, taken in 1912, shows the Ballard Locks while under construction.


The above photo features the “unofficial” opening of the Locks in 1916. The vessel “Swinomish” can be seen Locking through.


The above photo was taken in 1920 and features the Japanese freighter S.S. Haraison Maru in the Large Lock.


The above photo features a busy day at the Locks in the 1960s.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials, Tribes, local groups and communities have already begun planning next year’s centennial events to observe the official opening. The festivities are set to feature a 5k run, boat parade, concerts, a documentary screening an more.

“The Corps plans on beginning the festivities in January,” says Seattle District Project Manager Capt. Jake Lueders.

Check out the first episode of the documentary series, Centennial Kickoff, below:

Local residents or organizations wanting to participate in or sponsor any Ballard Locks Centennial Week events should contact Jacob Lueders at or Bill Dowell at

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