The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks is a real mouthful, so to everyone in Seattle, they're known simply as the "Ballard Locks".The locks are at the west end of the ship canal, which separates the residental areas of Magnolia on the south, and Ballard on the north, hence Ballard Locks. But by any name, this set of locks, one very large, one small, are the busiest set of locks in all of America, largely because of the enormous amount of pleasure boat traffic going between the inland lakes and waterways of Seattle -- Lake Union, Portage Bay, Salmon Bay and Lake Washington -- and saltwater Puget Sound. The locks are necessary because of the difference in heights of the Seattle lakes, and the rise and fall of the saltwater tides.
The locks are at the heart of a beautifully landscaped area on the north (Ballard) side of the locks, and on the south side is a well-done, and much visited fish ladder with large windows for viewing. You can walk from one side of the locks to the other, and look down on the boats arriving or leaving, and watch them as the either rise up or go down,depending on which way they're going. Here, in front of the locks, was the infamous "Herschel" and his gang of salmon-eating sea lions, who quickly learned the easiest way to catch a tasty salmon dinner, or lunch, was to jsut hang ou in front of the fish ladder. This went on for years, with Herschel and his buddies doing their best to deplete the excess salmon population, while the hew and cry of what to do raged forth. Herschel has long since gone to sea lion heaven, but the salmon still return, as do the boats by the hundreds and thousands. it's a grat way to spend a few hours of seeing a unique slice of Seattle.
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