Saturday/ the Ballard Locks

The Lake Washington Ship Canal connects Puget Sound to Lake Union and Lake Washington.  If you’re on your boat, you need to go through the locks, though — and if you have a tall sailing boat, there are several bridges that you will have to buzz the bridge master for to open for you as well !
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Why are the Locks needed? To keep the salt water of Puget Sound out, and the fresh water of Lake Union in .. and to serve as a ‘boat elevator’.

My brother and I and friends went out to the Museum of History and Industry in South Lake Union neighborhood (yes, I was there a few weeks ago as well), grabbed a bite to eat nearby, and went on to check out the Ballard Locks (official name : Hiram M. Chittenden Locks).  The locks are part of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, a large project that was started in 1911 and officially completed only in 1934.  The system of locks separate the fresh water body of Lake Union that is on average 20 ft higher than the salt water of Puget Sound (depending on the tides).  The locks also have a ‘fish ladder’ .. a set of boxes and weirs that allow salmon to migrate into Lake Union and Lake Washington to spawn.  I see fish like salmon that do this salt water-fresh water migration, are called diadromous fish.

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Boating season has not opened (it’s only on Memorial Day weekend in May), so there were no boats in the locks on Saturday. Check out the high water level of Lake Union on the right of the lock, and the much lower level of Puget Sound on the left.


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This is fresh water from Lake Union ‘overflowing’ into Puget Sound through the sluice gates of the lock system.
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Here is a single (lost?) little fish that we saw in the view window for the fish ladder. I am not even sure if it is a salmon. The best viewing times for the salmon run every year depend on the species of salmon. Sockeye – June, July; Chinook and Coho – Sept, Oct; Steelhead – late fall and winter.
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My brother and I posing at the cool outdoor artwork at the locks.

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