Cheatham Lake invites the public for a free tour of Cheatham Lock, Dam and Hydropower Plant in Ashland City, Tenn. Free tours for the general public in 2018 are scheduled for Saturday, July 21; and Saturday, Sept. 8. Tours of the facility are limited to 45 persons and each tour begins at 11 a.m. Central Time.
Approximately one hour in length, the tour will begin at the Right Bank Recreation Area. After guest check in and a brief introduction, guests will walk to the lock. After viewing the lock, participants will walk across the spillway section of Cheatham Dam and into the power plant. Guiding guests through the facilities, Corps of Engineers personnel and volunteers will provide information about Cheatham Lake’s unique history, project purposes, recreational opportunities, fish and wildlife benefits, as well as, an up-close look of the lock, dam and powerhouse facilities.
Cheatham Lock, 1799 Cheatham Dam Road, Ashland City, Tennessee 37015-9805
From Ashland City, Tenn., take TN-12 North for 7.5 miles. Turn left onto Cheatham Dam Road for 2.2 miles to Right Bank Recreation Area. Turn right for 1.5 miles - arrive at Cheatham Lock. Sign will direct to parking area and tour starting area.
Congress authorized the Cheatham Lock and Dam Project in 1946 as a navigation unit of a comprehensive plan of development for the Cumberland River Basin. The dam is located in Cheatham County, Tenn., on the Cumberland River at mile 148.7 about nine miles downstream of Ashland City.
The original purpose of this water resources development project was to replace three smaller, aging locks built at the turn of the century: Lock A at Cumberland River mile 150.6, Lock 1 at mile 188.4, and Lock 2 at mile 201. The ideal construction site was about nine miles downstream of Ashland City at River Mile 148.7, just 42 miles below Nashville.
In 1952, Congress added authorization for the production of hydroelectric power as a project function. The lock, dam, and power plant were designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and built by private contractors under Corps supervision. Construction started in April 1950, and the lock was opened to navigation in December 1952. The project became fully operational with the completion of the third generating unit in the power plant in November 1960.
The hydropower plant features three Westinghouse generators. Each generator produces 12 megawatts, 13,800 volts, 60 cycles, with a total potential output of 36 megawatts capable of powering 23, 400 residential homes at maximum output, with an annual average capability of powering 15,000 residential homes
Cheatham Lake covers 7,450 acres and has 320 miles of shoreline. The lake is a “run-of-the-river” type that operates basically on normal stream flow. The Corps uses as much of the inflow as practicable for hydropower generation. The dam was not constructed to provide a designated capacity for regulating floodwaters. Therefore, during periods of heavy rainfall and high stream flow, the spillway gates are opened to pass waters in excess of the capacity of hydropower turbines.
Tour Details and Rules
We ask all guests to arrive at Right Bank Recreation Area at least 15 minutes prior to the tour time for check in. For directions please contact the Cheatham Lake Resource Manager’s Office at (615) 792-5697.
Participants of the tour must be able to navigate one flight of stairs and walk approximately a quarter mile during the course of the tour.
Tour size is limited and is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Only visitors with approval and confirmation will be permitted on the tour. No substitutions or additions are allowed.
All participants over 16 years of age must provide photo identification upon arrival for the tour.
Visitors may not carry packages, backpacks, or other containers during the tour.
Photographs and video recording of the interior of the Power Plant is strictly prohibited.
No high-heel, open heel shoes, including clogs and Crocs or bare feet will be allowed on a tour. Tennis shoes are recommended.
All children ages 16 and under must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or responsible adult during the tour.