Ballard Locks centenary celebrations to kick off on President’s Day weekend

Songwriting finalist performances, historical societies and other group displays will kick off the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Hiram M. Chittenden Locks Centennial commemoration from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, February 18, through, Monday, February 20.

The locks officially opened on July 4, 1917. Rainer Valley and Fremont Historical Societies, History Link and Friends of the Ballard Locks will have historical displays in the administration building during the three days of the kick off event. A 6-foot-long scale model of the S.S. Roosevelt will also make its debut and be on display in the building throughout the year.


A replica of the Roosevelt’s bell will also be displayed in the building. U.S. Coast Guard Museum Northwest permanently donated the bell to the Locks for its historical significance. The Roosevelt led the parade through the locks July 4, 1917. It is the ship (pictured above) that Robert E. Peary used to attain the North Pole in April 1909. The Friends of the Ballard Locks display will feature the Roosevelt’s history and locks’ architect Carl Gould. is also commemorating this centennial with information about the canal’s history and how the canal and locks’ construction changed shorelines and altered the county’s river systems.

Fremont Historical Society will have maps, photos and information that tell how the canal impacted the Fremont neighborhood. Rainer Valley Historical Society’s “The Last Resort – Lowering Lake Washington,” will illustrate how the lake’s southwest shores provided Seattleites an escape from the increasing hum and bustle of city life. It also includes some of the effects lowering the lake in 1916 had on these recreational destinations, before all the timber was cut, the rivers straightened and the wetlands filled.

Maritime Folknet, a federal non-profit dedicated to preserving maritime culture and history, hosted a songwriting contest which ended January 9. The contest gave song writers a unique opportunity to write about Lake Washington Ship Canal and the locks for the centennial and record it for posterity. Some of the finalists will perform from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday, February 19, in the visitor center. Winners will be announced by early April and a CD of the final recordings is scheduled for release July 9, the day of the Centennial Boat Parade.

In addition to regular locks events, summer concert series, garden events and car shows, other events are being planned throughout the year, with most being held before August. Many unaffiliated groups are also hosting events, including a 5K and scavenger hunt.

For more information about all the events click here.

Photo courtesy of US Army Corps of Engineers.

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