The Dam Engineer

My dad is a dam Engineer for the Corp of Engineers out of Little Rock. His job involves design structures to be added to dams, inspecting dams for damage, and repairing damaged or old parts of dams. On Friday of last week my dad took me on a tour of the Lake Dardanelle Lock and Dam. It was really interesting to get to learn more about what a dam does and how it works. First of all I found out that there are two gates that make up the lock. These gates allow a barge to pass through the other side of the lock and dam. This may seem like a simply thing, think again. The gates are only about five feet wider that the barge on either side. Because it is a tight squeeze sending a barge through a lock is about a two hour process. First the come through the first gate and crew members have to jump to onto laters on the lock to then tie off the barge within the two gates. Once in the gates the water level is brought down to match the lower level of water on the other side of the second gate so the barge doesn’t shoot through the gate when opened like a roller coster. Once the water is lowered the second gate it opened the barge can make its way through the final gate back out on open water. Other than the lock the site has a dam that holds back water at a high level making Lake Dardanelle an excellent place for fishing and a hydropower house that uses the power of water to create electricity which is then sold to a power grid and then runs Russellville electricity. It was so much fun to get to see my dad “in his element” and learn how a lock and dam functions and the benefits it provided.

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