China: Three Gorges Dam: Lock System: March 2016


Our last major excursion on the Yangtze was the Three Gorges Dam. A few facts first about the Three Gorges Dam before I tell my story. The building of this dam displaced over a million people and flooded villages, towns and cities. Covering homes and industrial buildings in millions of gallons of water. I spoke a little bit last post about the little bits of civilization that could be seen above the water line. The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric dam with thirty-four generators; this dam is the largest power plant in the world.  

The dam is a massive structure and an insane feat of engineering. Our river boat reached the dam about nine at night. This was the first time I had the experience of going through a lock system. The Three Gorges Dam has a massive two channel lock system with five gates. The lock system takes anywhere from two to four hours to pass through – I only stayed awake for the first gate. The time difference is based on how many ships are before you. If you are interested in the basics of how locks work check out this video.

The first thing I did when we got into the lock system was to touch the wall of the lock. That could have potentially been dangerous, I know, but what’s life without a little risk? Wow, I sound cliche. Anyway, one side of the ship was mere inches from the concrete wall and on the other side of us there was another boat. img_7342

I apologize for the quality of these pictures, I took them with my phone at night.

img_7343The rope is the water level we started at within the first gate.

img_7353The dark line is where we started at. The water level dropped that much in about 10 minutes.

img_7354The rope never moved, just the water level.

img_7357Moving on to the second gate. I went to bed at this point.

The next morning we were able to see the lock gates from above. These are massive locks. The freighter in the first picture is carrying cars.

I will talk more about the dam its self next week and the visitor center. Enjoy and have a happy Wednesday!

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