Opening of Lock 17, 1915



Opening of Lock 17, 1915


Locks (Hydraulic engineering)
Black Warrior River (Ala.)


The opening and dedication of Lock 17 on the Black Warrior River was the occasion for celebration.

“Steamers came up from Mobile bring(ing) visitors for the opening ceremony. They came with visitors already on board and picked up more along the way, some waiting at Riverview, to be taken to the lock. Many distinguished guests were among the visitors.  Promptly at 8:30 in the morning a fleet composed of the John Quill, Myrtle, McCalla, Gold Bug and the Alabama and New Orleans Transportation Company’s Barge No. 2, left Riverview for the lock carrying as many as 1,000 people.

The address of welcome was made by Judge W.W. Brandon and responded to by Col. Harry Taylor of the U.S. board of engineers. The group was addressed by Congressman W.B. Oliver of Tuscaloosa, Hon. William B. Bankhead of Jasper, U.S. Sen. John Hollis Bankhead, Hon. John T. Cochrane of Mobile and U.S. Sen. Oscar W. Underwood. The speakers extolled the virtues of Tuscaloosa and its historical significance, the hospitality of Tuscaloosans, and rejoiced in the anticipated industrial development that the opening of the river would allow.“

To develop the coal industries of central Alabama, the US federal government in the 1880s began building a system of dressed rock lock and dams that concluded with 17 impoundments. In 1915, Lock 17, also known as John H. Bankhead Lock and Dam, was completed, being the only one of 17 impoundments constructed of concrete. Of the original dams, only Lock 17 remains. The lock and dam system made the Black Warrior River navigable along its entire course and it is one of the longest channelized waterways in the United States forming part of the extended system that links the Gulf of Mexico to Birmingham, Alabama.


Tuscaloosa News Archive




Betty Slowe (Description)






Black Warrior River (AL)

Original Format


Physical Dimensions

5 inches x 8 inches

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