Thursday, July 6, 2017

Ballard Locks Centennial

7/6/17 water-soluble colored pencils, ink

When I was a kid, one of the places my dad always wanted to take first-time Seattle visitors to was the Ballard Locks. He was apparently fascinated with the need to bring the water levels of Lake Washington, Lake Union and Puget Sound to the same level so that boats could travel among them and the locks’ engineering that made this possible. Standing at the edge of the locks, watching the boats pass through, he would go on and on about this marvel of technology, what it must have been like to construct it, blah blah blah. I was endlessly bored with my dad’s monologue, which I had to listen to every time we visited. I could always think of dozens of places our visitors would most certainly prefer to see, such as Woodland Park Zoo or the Space Needle.

Earlier this week the Ballard Locks (officially called the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks) celebrated its centennial with much media fanfare. Although I didn’t attend the festivities, I decided to go over there this beautiful morning. I’ve sketched the locks themselves previously, even at night as the Christmas ships passed through, but today I focused on the Salmon Bay Bridge, built shortly before the locks opened, which dominates the view. (I sketched a similar view a couple of years ago.)

Now with greater appreciation for what was, indeed, a marvel of technology a century ago (and which has served the region’s water traffic ever since), I also have greater appreciation for my dad’s blah blah blah. In fact, I have heard myself repeat it to Seattle visitors that I bring to the locks. 

Happy 100th birthday, Ballard Locks!


  1. Funny how as time passes we appreciate some things that seemed to be unimportant at the time. Great sketch of this. Your shading is particularly good.

    1. The older I get, the more I appreciate things my parents did that I rolled my eyes at back then! ;-)


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