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Posted 7/24/2009

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By Katie Newton


Visitors to McAlpine Locks and Dam can now listen to history come alive as they stroll through the visitors’ area’s self-guided audio tour, and if one is lucky, he or she might even get to watch a tow lock through the new 1,200 ft. chamber.

Tom Florentino, an engineer from Florida, was just that lucky. He walked to the visitor overlook just in time to see a 15-barge tow loaded with coal move through the new chamber. "This is a great project," Florentino said "I love to see these projects up-close."

The visitors’ area serves as a great place for visitors to not only take in the sights, but to learn about river navigation. The newly refurbished area brings the history of Ohio River navigation to life in a self-guided audio tour. The kiosks, with recordings by former Louisville District historian Chuck Parrish, explain how a lock operates and how goods are transported on the river. The kiosks also contain important historical information about the Falls of the Ohio, Portland Canal, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Addtionally, the center features the Louisville Repair Station’s restored workboat, Whitewater.

Louisville resident Ed Wicklander rode his bike to the visitor center for the first time and was pleased with what he saw. "It’s nice. When visitors come I’ll bring them down here now. It’s always so fascinating to watch the barge traffic."

The visitors’ area is open to the public from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.