Miniature Lock and Dam

The Amazing Miniature Lock-And-Dam Between Middle Eau Claire Lake and Lower Eau Claire Lake

This fascinating local landmark is located in the Gordon-Barnes area, right on South Shore Road. Actually, it’s right under South Shore Road.

It’s a miniature, hand-operated lock and dam that was built in the 1930s as part of the New Deal program. Completed in 1939, it has the same gates and valves as you’d see at one of those mega-locks on the Mississippi. It’s just a little smaller, and everything is operated by hand. As far as I know, there are very few like it in the entire country.

The lock itself is about six feet wide and thirty feet long. When it was built, that would have been considered plenty big enough. After all, it could lock through two fourteen-foot fishing boats at the same time. Although impatient canoeists and kayakers sometimes just portage up and over South Shore Road, it only takes a few minutes to lock on through. If you’re paddling in the neighborhood, or motoring about in a small enough fishing boat, give it a try sometime. Or, just stop and check out this rare and fascinating piece of transportation technology.

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