Nearly 1,000 people watched as the first boat traveled through the Ballard Locks.

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The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard opened in the summer of 1916 as part of a decades-long effort to give ships passage between Lake Washington and Puget Sound.

The Seattle Times commemorated the opening with a rather long and complicated sentence leading the front-page story:

“Before the eyes of men who nearly a generation ago began the fight for a canal connecting Puget Sound, Salmon Bay, Lake Union and Lake Washington, the huge concrete main lock built by the United States government at the entrance to Salmon Bay as one link in the colossal project, was formally thrown open to traffic at 10 o’clock this morning.”

The first boat to pass through the 85-foot-wide lock that day was “the workboat Swinomish.” Men influential in building the canal were aboard as it traveled past the open concrete barrier.

Nearly 1,000 spectators were on hand to watch the lock operate.

“Brilliant sunshine, the green of the surrounding hills, crowds of men and prettily attired women, girls and children combined to give the ceremony a gala atmosphere,” The Times reported.

Engineers later finished construction on the Montlake Cut, connecting Lake Union and Lake Washington. Lake Washington dropped nearly 9 feet, causing the Black River, which had allowed the lake to drain into the Duwamish River, to dry up.

The August 3, 1916, front page of The Seattle Times.
The August 3, 1916, front page of The Seattle Times.
Brig. Gen. Hiram M. Chittenden, for whom the locks are named, watches from a nearby hillside. Chittenden recommended Congress appropriate funding to build the locks.
Brig. Gen. Hiram M. Chittenden, for whom the locks are named, watches from a nearby hillside. Chittenden recommended Congress appropriate funding to build the locks.