US Army Corps of Engineers
Pittsburgh District

Opekiska Lock and Dam

Aerial view of Opekiska Lock and Dam1241 Opekiska Road
Fairmont, WV 26554-8612
304-366-4224

Opekiska Lock and Dam is one of nine major structures on the Monongahela River which provides year-round navigation from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Fairmont, W.Va. Visitors are welcome at Opekiska Lock and Dam, but because of the limited hours of operation for this facility, you should check in advance with the lock by calling 304-366-4224.

Location
Opekiska Lock and Dam is located at river mile 115.4, about 7 miles northeast of the city of Fairmont, W.Va. The lock chamber and operations building are situated along the right bank of the river. Road access to the project is from a state road leading north from the community of Smithtown.


History
Completing the modernization of the West Virginia portion of the Monongahela River was realized with the construction of the Opekiska Lock and Dam project between 1961 and 1964. Thus, Locks 14 and 15, the last of the 60-year-old locks and dams, were removed. The navigation channel on the Monongahela River now extends from The Point in Pittsburgh several miles into the Tygart and West Fork rivers at Fairmont.

Project Information
Opekiska Lock and Dam consists of a lock chamber and a gated dam. This type of dam is constructed to permit increased control over the water level in the navigation pool upriver of the dam. Machinery mounted on tall concrete piers moves large chains which lift gates that are hinged into the body of the piers. As the gates are raised or lowered to control the amount of water flowing under them, the upstream pool is maintained at a relatively constant level for an authorized depth of at least 9 feet throughout its length. The dam, however, cannot be operated to control flood flows. An incidental benefit derived from the pool formed by the dam is the availability of a source of municipal and industrial water.