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Fort Gay in Wayne County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
 

The Fort Gay Lock and Dam

1880

 
 
The Fort Gay Lock and Dam Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, July 13, 2019
1. The Fort Gay Lock and Dam Marker
Inscription.  Steam Boat traffic reached Fort Gay in the 1830s but relied on a sufficient water level. During dry periods, boats could not run. Throughout the 19th century, efforts were made to build a system of locks and dams to allow year-round boat traffic and improve trade on the Big Sandy River. Finally in the 1880s, construction began on the locks and Needle dam in Fort Gay. Construction and further improvements continued for decades and finally allowed steamers to reach Fort Gay and above at any time of the year. Competition from the railroad meant the locks never did much business and were finally abandoned in 1925.
 
Erected by Ken Hicks for House.
 
Location. 38° 7.015′ N, 82° 35.625′ W. Marker is in Fort Gay, West Virginia, in Wayne County. Marker is on Court Street (West Virginia Route 37) east of Vancouver Street, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: Court Street, Fort Gay WV 25514, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Fort Gay Toll Bridge (here, next to this marker); Fort Gay (within shouting
Marker on far left of two at the old Fort Gay High School. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, July 13, 2019
2. Marker on far left of two at the old Fort Gay High School.
distance of this marker); Frederick M. Vinson (approx. 0.4 miles away in Kentucky); County Named, 1821 (approx. half a mile away in Kentucky); Revolutionary War Soldier's Grave (approx. 0.6 miles away); Fort Bishop (approx. 0.8 miles away in Kentucky); Pioneer Furnace / Iron Made in Kentucky (approx. 1.9 miles away in Kentucky); Giant Cooling Tower (approx. 4.1 miles away in Kentucky). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fort Gay.
 
Regarding The Fort Gay Lock and Dam. History of the Fort Gay Lock and Dam by Robert Thompson

1835 – The first survey of the river for boat traffic is made
1838 – The first steamboats have reached Fort Gay by this time
1849 – Frederick Moore built a wharf on the river at Fort Gay for loading and unloading goods
1858 – The Big Sandy River Navigation Company was established to build locks but never did.
1875 – US Army Corps of Engineers conducts a study of the river for improvement of transportation
1878 – Army Corps of Engineers begins removing debris and overhanging trees to improve navigation
1880 – Federal government
The Fort Gay Lock and Dam Marker at left. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, July 13, 2019
3. The Fort Gay Lock and Dam Marker at left.
approves construction of a lock and dam at Fort Gay
1883 – Construction begins on the lock and dam led by Engineer B.F. Thomas. Workers began coming into town to work on the project.
1885-1888 – The lock and dam project routinely suffers from delays and cost overruns. Construction season occurred during dry months in the summer.
1891 – The project is altered to allow for construction of a moveable needle dam instead of a fixed dam at Fort Gay. It would be the first in the US.
1890s – Plans expanded to include additional locks and dams along the Big Sandy, Tug and Levisa. They were completed at Kenova, Prichard and Saltpeter.
1893 – 125 men were at work on the Fort Gay structure
1895 – Total cost for the Fort Gay lock and dam reached $750,000.
1897 – Initial construction was completed on the Fort Gay lock. Engineers from Mississippi and Hungary visit. The Congressional River and Harbor Committee visits. Elevent additional locks are planned on the Levisa Fork and eight on the Tug Fork. The total system of locks and dams on the Big Sandy and tributaries consisted of twenty-two structures. Most were never finished.
1902 – Federal government approves raising the height of the Fort Gay lock. Transportation through the lock dropped from 300,000 tons to 194,000 tons.
1904 – Locks and Kenova and Prichard
View of the needle dam and lock as originally built in 1896 at Louisa. image. Click for full size.
By Public domain
4. View of the needle dam and lock as originally built in 1896 at Louisa.
are completed allowing year-round river traffic to Fort Gay.
1908 – Fort Gay lock is shutdown to allow for raising its height and installing steel gates.1909 – Lock and dam at Saltpeter is completed.
1912 – Engineer B.F. Thomas leaves his position on the Big Sandy.
1920 – The Fort Gay lock was operating at reduced capacity while repairs were ongoing.
1922 – A small amount of coal and oil is transported through the lock at Fort Gay
1925 – Federal government decides to abandon the locks on the Big Sandy River.
1940 – Army Corps of Engineers issued a report looking into building new modern locks and dams on the Big Sandy. It never occurred.
 
Categories. Waterways & Vessels
 
Remnants of Fort Gay Dam with lock on the left. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, July 30, 2019
5. Remnants of Fort Gay Dam with lock on the left.
 

More. Search the internet for The Fort Gay Lock and Dam.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 30, 2019. This page originally submitted on July 30, 2019, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 117 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on July 30, 2019, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
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