A Great Dam Day – Ballard Locks in Seattle

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It’s been a while since I last posted. With the settling in after my move, the holidays storming through, and the fact that it’s dark by about 4:30 here, I lost track of time and kept putting this blog off. I decided to fix that with a trip to the Ballard Locks in Seattle.

The Ballard Locks are what moderates the traffic between the Shilshole Bay and Salmon Bay. Or, on a larger scale, it is the barrier between the Puget Sound and Lake Union and Lake Washington.

And they’re about an hour by public transit from my apartment.

The Walk to the Lock

It was a dreary and cloudy day when I set out. Most days are here. The stereotype of it raining all the time is true, sure, but it’s the clouds and the really short days that get you. Eventually, you have to make your own sunshine and get outside.

After two buses, my journey ended with about a mile walk over a somewhat narrow bridge spanning a scene from a Stephen King novel.

Train tracks - Seattle


Not too far beyond the bridge, I arrived at the Ballard Locks.

Ballard Hiram M. Chittenden Locks - Seattle

The Ballard Lock

The lock itself is more dedicated to function over form, but that’s not to say that there’s nothing to see. Underneath the water level lives a room with glass windows so visitors can see the fish that swim in these waters. The most common is the Sockeye Salmon, though there were several others types listed in the light boxes that framed the window.

Ballard Hiram M. Chittenden Locks - Seattle

The whole area was really drab and concrete, despite attempts to add some color through art.

Art work on the Fish walk at Ballard Hiram M. Chittenden Locks - Seattle

Outside, in the bay, I spotted some ducks. I have no idea what kind of duck this was, but if anyone from the Audubon Society happens upon this page, please let me know in the comments. But this duck, we’ll call him Charles, swam around quacking and searching. But for what?

Turns out Charles was fishing. One minute he was swimming, the next…

Bird diving for fish in Bay - Ballard Locks Seattle

He dove under the water to straight murder some fish. Nature is metal.

The Boats of Ballard Locks

Looking over the dam wall - Ballard Locks Seattle

At the end of the day, while this is all very picturesque, the job of the Locks is to moderate water levels and ferry traffic. As I wandered across the dam, I saw boats doing just that — including a barge named the Island Chief.

The Island Chief barge makes its way through the locks - Ballard Locks Seattle

Every now and again when I’m out and about, I find something that find to be a soothing color. I like taking pictures of it because something about it draws me in.

In this case, the teal of the Island Chief caught my eye. I couldn’t get enough pictures of it, though I was able to narrow it down to my two favorites.

The Island Chief - Ballard Locks Seattle

Not all of the Locks were in use. Generally, they used the appropriate sized locks for boats. Shortly after this picture was taken, a smaller boat came through and ruined the serene waters.

Through the locks - Ballard Locks Seattle

Though the water that had been through the dam (and not the locks) was never still.

Look at the dam water! - Ballard Locks Seattle

From the Ballard Locks, I walked the 2 miles up to the West Point Lighthouse. That’s another post (because this one has run long enough) but I’m hoping to have it up by midweek.

Up and Coming Posts

As I alluded to in the intro, things have been hectic around here: new city, new job, limited daylight hours, limited budget, etc. Running a travel photo blog is all fun and games but I still need to make time for it. So I’m planning ahead with my next few pieces.

Next up will be photos from the West Point Lighthouse and Discovery Park, and this weekend I’ll be going to the Museum of Flight in Tukwila, Washington. I’m getting back on the horse, guys.

Thanks for reading. See you next week.

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Per usual, this blog lots has been shared as part of the Faraway Files linkup. If you didn’t come from it, click the link below to see other people’s work, where they’ve been, etc. It’s a good time.
Suitcases and Sandcastles


  1. Good luck with the new job and home, Eddie. I always feel refreshed and ready for life again after a good day trip. I’d love to visit the Seattle area again. I really loved that part of the States. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

  2. I’m from Seattle, and the Ballard Locks is a family favorite, especially when people come from out of town. Sorry you’re finding Seattle so dreary… do let me know if you need any Seattle advice, I still have a lot of friends and family there. Summer in Seattle is pretty spectacular! #farawayfiles

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