Plaquemine Lock September 3, 1895 was a day of celebration in Plaquemine. After many years of planning, Congress had authorized the building of a lock connecting the Mississippi River with Bayou Plaquemine. Congressman Andrew Price came from Washington to take part in this celebration and shoveled the first spade of dirt. One of the most difficult pieces of engineering of this kind to that date, construction stretched over 14 years because of delays caused by engineering problems and bankruptcies of many of the contractors. It wasn’t until April 9, 1909 at approximately two in the afternoon when Miss Carrie B. Schwing with a “Swoosh” of the champagne bottle against the lockhouse christened the lock and opened it to boat traffic. This short-cut to the interior of Louisiana stayed in operation 24 hours a day until 1961 when after a service of 52 years it was closed down.
Napkin Used to Celebrate the Building of the Lock in Plaquemine
Lock Under Construction in 1899 The foundation required 8,803 pine piling 50 feet long.
Pilings Were Positioned So That They Would Be Three Feet From the Nearest Piling
When completed, the Lock would be 545 feet long and 55 feet wide .
Man Dangling From Lock - This picture was taken in 1905, four years before completion.
Lock Nearing Completion Before Dirt Levee Was Built
Panoramic View of Plaquemine Lock From River End
Government Boat “Stadia” Making Final Inspection Before Opening Lock
Carrie B. Schwing Waiting for Signal to Enter Lock (April 9, 1909)
Lock Gates Opening for the First Steamer to Go Through at Plaquemine, La. April 9, 1909
Carrie B. Schwing First Steamboat To Enter The Lock - Carrie B. Schwing, the lady in the white dress, christened the lock by breaking a bottle of champagne against the lock wall.
Carrie B. Schwing Waiting to Re-enter Lock From Mississippi River
After going through the lock to the Mississippi River, the Carrie B. Schwing turned around and returned.
The Men Who Operated the Lock (circa 1935) - Left to right seated: Richard Trepagnier, Franklin “Gus” O’Neil, A.E.Fugler Superintendent, James Hebert and Edger Robicheaux. Standing Left to right: Tracy Chapman, Lindon “Bill” Rivet, Wallas Collins, Houston Buras, Mitchel “Mike” Tullier, Coan Rolls, Fred Fugler and Red Carter.
The lock was originally steam operated. Shown is Franklin “Gus” O’Neil, Chief Engineer of the Plaquemine Lock (Circa 1950)
The lock was completed in 1909 and connected the Mississippi River to Bayou Plaquemine. Tug boats with their barges could now travel from the bayous to the Mississippi River even though their levels were different. This opened the bayou lands to commerce without endangering the lands outside the levee to flooding.