ShareThis Page

Boaters have run of Allegheny River as Army Corps temporarily reopens 4 locks

| Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, 9:04 a.m.
Julie E. Martin
Lock 7 in Kittanning opened Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014.

Boaters descended en masse on Saturday upon the Upper Allegheny River, taking advantage of a rare chance to pass through locks that have been closed to recreational traffic since 2012.

The Army Corps of Engineers opened the Clinton, Kittanning, Mosgrove and Rimer locks this weekend for the Alle-Kiski Strong Chamber of Commerce's Allegheny River Poker Run.

Mandy Stitt, 27, of Freeport traversed the river in her speed boat for the poker run, heading down past Schenley and back up to Kittanning. She and friends planned to spend the evening on the river.

“It would be great if we could do it all the time,” she said.

Locks were opened from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Those at the chamber encouraged all to take advantage of the chance to make their way through the open locks.

And they did. Locks 6, 7, 8 and 9 saw brisk business all day. Officials at Lock 7 at Kittanning said 250 boats had passed through by 8 p.m. Saturday.

“We're so anxious to get these locks open. We just want to go explore the pools,” said John Jackovitz, a Monroeville resident who docks at the Rosston Marina below Ford City. He was heading upriver with plans to lock through to the Kittanning pool.

He's had a lease at Rosston for more than 30 years. He keeps his 47-foot houseboat there, even though lock access is restricted. Now he's limited to parties at the marina and making his way around the pool.

“Our kids grew up on this stretch of river,” he said. “Now, we can't go down. We can't go up. I think it's silly.”

Jackovitz is unhappy with the federal budget cuts that two years ago made the locks off limits for recreation, he said.

On the bright side, for four days in August there will be an opportunity for Armstrong County boating to return to how it was before the closures. The locks will also be open next weekend for an Arts on the Allegheny concert.

Unlocking the river boosts the local economy, Jackovitz said.

Business at Rosston bore that out. Staff said merchandise sales were up. Gas sales, they estimated, more than doubled from the previous weekend.

“Boaters are going to spend a lot of money,” Jackovitz said. “We're going to spend money. We're going to the Mariner.”

And so were a lot of other people. The Allegheny Mariner restaurant next to the Kittanning Marina was packed.

Bill Dimmitt, 64, of Valley Township and his wife, Marsha, headed upriver in their pontoon boat to visit friends.

The trip would be a little different than those in the past. He sold his houseboat at the end of last year. With the lock restrictions, he said, he couldn't use such a large craft.

Dimmitt said he hopes a good response to the lock openings would send a message to those at the federal level holding the purse strings.

“It's our tax money after all,” he said.

A member of the Allegheny River Development Corporation, a nonprofit working to open the locks for recreation, Dimmitt was encouraged by Saturday's turnout.

“There's more boat traffic than I've seen in a long time,” he said.

Ronald Wyant, 60, of Baltimore agreed.

“I've never seen this many people here,” the Kittanning native said as he readied his boat for fishing in Lock 7.

Wyant was heading out with his twin brother, Donald, a Kittanning resident.

“It's great. We're seeing more boats on the river than we have in a long time,” Donald Wyant said. “I wish they'd keep the locks open forever.”

Julie E. Martin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1315, or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.