What to Expect if You Lock Through Watts Bar Dam—in a Canoe Going Upstream

In Outdoors, Voice in the Wilderness
by Kim Trevathan April 5, 2017

Within a barge length or two of Watts Bar Nuclear Plant across the lake, I launched my canoe for the first time in over a year. Accustomed to riding low out of the wind in a kayak about half the canoe’s weight, I had to reset my paddling tactics when a headwind hooked the bow and flung me downstream, away from my goal: the lock of Watts Bar Dam, about a mile away.

Grizzled fishermen stared from the ramp as I let the boat pinwheel until I could get the bow pointed into the wind and start the constant frantic paddling necessary for making progress against the current and a 20 mph wind.

When I first began to research a canoe trip down the Tennessee River in 1998, people assured me that Jasper, my dog, and I would have no trouble locking through nine dams going downstream, sitting there as if in a series of enormous draining bathtubs. Just don’t lock through going upstream, more than one boater told me. I remember something said about the turbulence created when water is injected into the chamber, raising the level to the “upper” side of the dam, the lake side.

Read more at Knox Mercury