Willamette Falls

photo by: US Army Corps of Engineers

Saving America's Historic Sites

Willamette Falls Navigation Canal and Locks

  • Constructed: 1873
  • Location: West Linn, Oregon

Among the oldest in the nation, the National Register-listed bypass canal and locks skirting Willamette Falls opened in 1873, and have been owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers since 1915. Throughout the last century, the locks were well-managed and maintained. Unfortunately, in recent years, funding declined substantially. In November 2011, the U.S. Army Corps moved the canal and locks to “non-operational” status, closing them indefinitely.

Willamette Falls is the nexus of northwestern tribal culture and western migration in the United States, and the centerpiece for a proposed National Heritage Area. Based upon a gate design by Leonardo Da Vinci, the canal and locks bypassing the falls retain their historic integrity, but require immediate care. Repairing the canal and locks will preserve the oldest and most intact bypass canal and leaf-gate locks in the nation, and set an example for sensitive care and operations of historic inland waterway navigation sites.

Campaign Goals

  • Promote repairs and maintenance, which will preserve the historic integrity of the canal and locks.
  • Facilitate future operations of the canal and locks for commerce, recreation, and tourism.


Repair the historic Willamette Falls Navigation Canal and Locks and reopen them for commerce, recreation, and tourism.

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