Tall Ships transit McNary Lock and Dam

Story by Jennifer McFadden Allen

As the Lady Washington emerged from the hazy mist, the crowd, which was now gathered at McNary Lock and Dam, began to clamor. More than 75 visitors, as well as countless children, waited with anticipation along the railing, as the Lady Washington locked past the dam on its way to Arlington, Ore. Dam officials allowed visitors to view the ‘tall ship’ from the north side of the navigation lock, allowing onlookers an up close and personal experience with the ‘tall ship,’ as well as the navigation lock passage process. McNary is a single-lift lock, standing 86 feet wide and 683 feet long, with a 75 foot vertical lift, more than 5 million tons of commodities pass through each year, consisting primarily of grains, petroleum products, fertilizer and wood products.
“It’s really unusual to see this type of sailing ship this far up the Columbia River; the last time it came through our navigation lock was in 2013,” said Dave Coleman, Operations Project Manager at McNary. “We thought it would be nice to create an opportunity for the public to get a really close look as it passes by.”
The 112-foot, 400,000-pound Lady Washington is a full-scale reproduction of the original Lady Washington built in the British Colony of Massachusetts in the 1750s. It is also the official ship of the State of Washington. The original vessel carried freight between colonial ports until the American Revolutionary War, when she became an American privateer. In 1787, after the war, she was given a major refit to prepare her for an unprecedented trading voyage around Cape Horn. In 1788, she became the first American vessel to make landfall on the west coast of North America.
Visitors were also encouraged to tour the fish ladder and viewing room, which showcases McNary’s efforts to support the Army Corps of Engineer’s mission. Although this time of year is not peak season for the fish ladder and view stations, the visiting children did not seem to mind as they sat in the windows looking for the next fish to swim by.
There are two fish ladders for adult migrating salmon and steelhead to use. The juvenile fish facility (JFF) and bypass system was completed in 1994 and during 2009 about 3.8 million juvenile salmon and steelhead were collected at the JFF. About 3.3 million fish were bypassed back into the river, and about 448,833 transported for release past Bonneville Lock and Dam. In 2007, spillway weirs were installed in two spillway bays. The weirs are designed to create a surface-oriented route for juvenile salmon passage at the dam. In 2010, fish ladders were modified to accommodate lamprey passage.
For more information about other recreational opportunities at McNary Lock and Dam, call 541-922-2268 or visit McNary Dam’s recreation webpage www.nww.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/McNaryDamandLakeWallula.aspx. For more information about these ships, go online to www.historicalseaport.org.

Lady Washington cruises through Walla Walla District's McNary Lock and Dam Aug. 10, 2015. Photo by Jennifer McFadden

Lady Washington cruises through Walla Walla District’s McNary Lock and Dam Aug. 10, 2015. Photo by Jennifer McFadden

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