Chilo Lock 34 Memorial Park

521 County Park Rd.
Chilo, OH 45112

513-876-9013   |
Daily dawn until dusk

Locks and Dams Along the Ohio River

Chilo Lock 34 Memorial Park offers visitors the chance to engage with the history of transportation along the Ohio River, while enjoying the natural landscape along the waterway.

The Chilo Lock 34 building was originally built in 1925 to operate the wicket dams that were installed to control the depth of the Ohio River and improve navigation. The river has always been a resource to those who settled around it and used as a mode of transportation for travel and trade. Early navigation of the waterway was difficult because its depth did not remain consistent, depending on weather and the season.

River travel was most significant in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, especially thriving following the construction of canals in the first half of the nineteenth century. With the growth of industry came increased trade along the Ohio River, and engineers explored ways to improve waterway navigation – the answer was the construction of locks and dams. The Rivers and Harbors Act was passed by Congress in 1910, which authorized the construction of a series of locks and dams along the length of the Ohio that would maintain an average river depth. When the project was completed in 1929, 51 movable dams with wooden wickets and a lock chamber were in operation and allowed ships to navigate the river smoothly. Trade and travel along the River slowed significantly as other modes of transportation, like trains and automobiles, proved more efficient. Many of the original wooden wickets were replaced in the 1950s by more modern concrete and steel dams, and still operate along the river.

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Notes for Travelers

Chilo Lock 34 Memorial Park sits on the former site of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lock and Dam. Its scenic location along the river offers visitors incredible views and an opportunity to explore the history of river travel at the Chilo Lock 34 Visitor’s Center and Museum. The museum is housed in the original operations building for Lock and Dam 34 and interprets the history of travel along the Ohio River through their exhibits, displays, and seasonal events. Among the park’s unique features are its 1.5 acres of preserved wet lands, a steamboat-themed playground, and two yurts, which are available for visitors to rent and camp out along the river. Crooked Run Nature Preserve is next to Chilo Lock 34 Memorial Park and supports a robust population of wildlife that can be viewed along the preserve's hiking areas trails and observation platform.

Additional Resources

The Ohio Canals: History of Ohio Canals, William A. McGill, ed.

Canals for a Nation: The Canal Era in the United States, 1790-1860, Ronald E. Shaw.

History of Navigation in the Ohio River Basin, Michael C. Robinson.