Middle Route: Rapide Plat Lock (1847)

The approach to the locks is described in this post. You want to arrive at either of position #2 or #3 described there.

You’ll pass over a tire (the only one in the entire site) and come upon a pile of bottles at the base of the lock’s upstream gate.

I’m calling it a “gate” but with research and close inspection have discovered that this is likely not the case. It is more likely a weir. Historical records note that a weir was positioned inside the old lock after the lock was no longer in use, at approximately the spot where the upstream gates would have stood. More about this in a separate post to come.

When you arrive at the weir, take a few moments to examine it. Its surface is smooth and its joints are precise; it is not made of wood (all lock gates were wooden) and it has no openings (all gates had openings to control flow). It points like a V into the current.

The next step is to go up and over.  The current will grab you at the top so ascend slowly and maintain your buoyancy. Note the diagonal cuts at the top, then drop over into the lock itself.

Another clue that this is weir and not a gate is that the lower area has been filled with concrete for added structural support. To the right (south) you can look in the opening where the cables were housed to open and close the gate and see the only location in the entire site that has its gear mechanism still in position.

You’re now fully in the Rapide Plat Lock.  Because of the closed weir there is a fairly strong back eddy that you’ll battle a bit as you make your way downstream.  Take your time.  There’s a ton of stuff in here to inspect, including gate crank mechanisms, parts of the old doors, floor planking, a long electrical standard and a wheelbarrow. There’s construction rubble everywhere.  I haven’t categorized these items yet and look forward to a great many entertaining dives here.

Here are a few noteworthy items:

If you come across this wheelbarrow, you know you’re approaching the downstream end of the lock. It’s sitting on the south side of the cribbings mentioned in this postwheelbarrow-web

Keeping along the north wall of the lock, make your way to the individual cribbings. As described in the post, drift to the last crib and choose one of your end-of-the-lock options.

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