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PA Boating Handbook
Locks & Dams
In Pennsylvania, locks and dams are located on the three rivers in and near Pittsburgh (Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio rivers). The dams provide a navigable channel for river traffic. Locks are a means of passing vessels through the dams. The locks in Pennsylvania are built and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

At locks, the lockmaster is in control and will signal your boat to enter with a horn or a light system.

There are priorities (of boats) set for safe and efficient passage:

  • military craft
  • mail boats
  • commercial passenger craft
  • commercial tows
  • commercial fishermen
  • pleasure boats

Before entering a lock, the boat should stop at least 100 yards from the lock entrance. The lockmaster can be signaled by the boater with a long and short blast of the horn, on the marine radio (channel 13) or with a signaling device on the lock wall. Once the lockmaster has been signaled, the boat must stay clear of the lock chamber until signaled to enter. Fenders and mooring lines (minimum of 75 feet) should be ready. Once inside the chamber, the lock lines are adjusted with the water levels. The boat must not be tied fast to the lock wall. Life jackets should always be worn.

Lock systems
Typical fixed-crest dam
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