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Old Trinity River Locks and Dams in Dallas


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Lock and dam #2 on the Trinity River in Dallas County south of Goat Island.

Ever since Texas entered the Union, it has attempted to make the upper Trinity River in North Texas navigable (it wanted to do this while it was a republic but it never had enough money). At the turn of the 20th century, Congress finally appropriated enough money and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began dredging the Trinity River and building locks and dams.Then World War I happened, and the project was scrapped.


I still think the project should be revived, but since no one is asking me, I instead decided to seek out two of the locks and dams extant on the Trinity River south of Dallas in Dallas County. I visited the Trinity River Goat Island Preserve (link) and first, hiked the straight path created for lineman work to Belt Line Road. At the bridge, I took the broad lineman path to the Trinity River and and saw the lock and dam #2. Thereafter, I took the DORBA trail (Dallas Off-Road Biking Association) that parallels the Trinity River northward to reach the main trail. It's a winding path that takes some time.


Trail etiquette is reversed on a DORBA trail. After all, their members maintain the paths so they can go bike riding. So on these trails, hikers should step aside for bicycles!


My next hike involved going to the McCommas Bluff Preserve south of downtown Dallas off Loop 12. I walked the concrete and dirt path to its end, where I could view the lock and dam #1 down stream. It was not the best view, however. Near this lock is the old lock-keepers house, now abandoned and inhabited by homeless campers. I would suggest bringing a big stick to ward off potential dog encounters, as this neighborhood has several roaming strays.


The McCommas Bluff Preserve is nice enough, but it has been (and I suspect, is still being) used as a dumping ground for various discarded furniture and other household items. Across the Trinity is the Trinity River Audubon Center, which is better maintained. From its trails, lock and dam #1 can be viewed from the opposite side, somewhat.


Luckily, the weather was perfect for a couple of massive hikes!


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A close-up of lock and dam #2 south of Goat Island in southern Dallas County, Texas.
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Near McCommas Bluff just south of downtown Dallas is lock and dam #1, built by the US Army Corps of Engineers in the early 20th century but never used because the project to make the upper Trinity River navigable was scrapped. The view from McCommas Bluff Preserve isn't the best, and I had to zoom in. It is REALLY steep to get to the shoreline, and I didn't dare it.

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I fought an incredible amount of briars and brambles and almost lost my shoe to get this bad photo of lock and dam #1 at McCommas Bluff south of Dallas, Dallas County, Texas. Geesh, the river is DEEP.

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