Stretching back to the early days of our country, the Kentucky River has a rich navigation history, with 14 locks built in the 19th and 20th centuries. Unfortunately, the river was closed to navigation in 2007 when Lock 1 through Lock 4 were shut down. Recreational boaters could still access and use the river, but commercial vessels that relied on the locks to transit were shut out.
Recently, I received a call from a state of Kentucky official who said that they were reopening the Kentucky River to Lock 5 and want to open the rest of the river all the way up to Lock 10.
The Kentucky River is as scenic as any river a mariner will ever navigate. Above Lock 5, the river becomes a sheer gorge with limestone walls that ascend hundreds of feet in the air. The natural beauty is staggering and it keeps getting better and better as you continue up the river. There are also some very famous places along the river. Among them are Clays Ferry, which was the site of an old shipyard, and Fort Boonesborough, the frontier fort founded by Daniel Boone.
My wife and I were lucky enough to be able to navigate the Kentucky River on a houseboat before it was closed to navigation. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my river career. I was saddened when officials decided to shut down the locks to navigation.
Now I’m extremely pleased that we will once again have an opportunity to navigate this beautiful historic river and benefit from all that she has to offer.
If you have a chance to navigate the Kentucky River all the way up to Lock 10, I encourage you jump at the opportunity. You will never forget the experience.