Rebecca G. Aguilar | Writer


What is that thing? | San Antonio River Lock and Dam

Posted by Rebecca G. Aguilar, M.Ed. on November 30, 2014

San Antonio River Lock and Dam near Brooklyn Avenue

On a recent weekend stroll on the San Antonio Riverwalk from the Museum Reach, my family and I came upon a large mechanical structure that looked like a dam in the river south of Brooklyn Avenue.

Spanning the length of a bridge, the structure links a 1.3 mile section of the Riverwalk to the historic VFW Post 76, the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Pearl brewery.

Along with other curious onlookers, we peered down into two compartments separated by upstream and downstream gates as a San Antonio River taxi approached the structure on one side.

The boat’s driver explained to passengers that they were navigating the San Antonio River Lock and Dam. The lock was designed to raise and lower boats between varying elevations along the river... similar to locks navigated by vessels on the Erie Canal.

“This is the only recreational lock in Texas,” said the boat’s driver while he idled the taxi engine and waited for the lock master to raise the water level.

According to the San Antonio River Authority, not one pump raises or lowers the levels of water at the lock. Only the force of gravity causes the water level in the compartment to equalize with the water level on the other side of the exit.

After three minutes in the lock, the water levels are the same. The exit gates open and a boat can continue on its way down the river.

The San Antonio River Authority preserves, protects and manages the resources and ecology of the San Antonio River and its tributaries.

Category: What is that thing?

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