NR 15-40: Corps suspends unescorted public access to navigation locks

Published Dec. 15, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 15, 2015) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District announced today it has suspended unescorted public access to all navigation locks on the Tennessee River, to include Wilson Navigation Lock, for an indefinite period of time.

The Corps originally restricted access to its locks following Sept. 11, 2001 as a security precaution.  District officials reopened Wilson Lock in May 2014 following security enhancements. Although there has been no specific threat to any lock on the Tennessee River, as a result of the recent increase of terrorist attacks, the Corps is again restricting unescorted access to the lock as a precautionary measure while it reviews security procedures in conjunction with the Tennessee Valley Authority, who owns and operates the dams adjacent to many of these locks.  This review is in advance of the 2016 recreation season and the Corps does not anticipate much impact due to historically low visitation rates in the off-season. 

The Corps and TVA were working on plans as recently as this summer to allow unescorted access to the public at other locks on the Tennessee River.  However, these efforts will also be paused as part of the security review.

“In light of recent events both worldwide and here in the United States, the Corps of Engineers and the Tennessee Valley Authority both agreed that a precautionary review of our security and public access policies was warranted,” said Lt. Col. Stephen F. Murphy, Nashville District commander.  “The Corps really values the public visits to our locks to learn about the incredible engineering marvels that they are and how they play such a critical role in our regional and national commercial, industrial, and economic success.” 

Escorted group tours are still allowed by contacting the appropriate lockmaster in advance for guidance and availability. 

(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at  The public can also visit the Wilson Navigation Lock website at

Bill Peoples
Lee Roberts

Release no. 15-038