Local officials dedicated the Lock 2 Park historical marker June 24 at Lock 2 Park in Donelson.
District 15 Metro Councilman Jeff Syracuse, officials with the Metro Historical Commission, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the grandson of former lockmaster Red Holman and others attended the ceremony.
Syracuse said the ceremony and permanent marker highlight the historical relevance of Lock and Dam 2.
According to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Public Affairs official Lee Roberts, the navigation lock went into operation in 1907 to tame the Cumberland River, but where only remnants of its stonework remain visible on the shoreline.
“The Corps of Engineers opened Lock and Dam 2 in 1907 and discontinued operations Dec. 5, 1956,” Roberts said. “Metro Parks leased the property in 1956; Lock 2 Park still contains the lock keeper's house, several outbuildings, a lock wall, and a river gauge on the concrete steps. In 2017, Metro Council approved the purchase of approximately 75 historic markers for all 35 council districts, including the marker for this old navigation lock.”
The ceremony that took place June 24 was generally private out of concern for social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Located in the Pennington Bend area, Lock 2 Park is in Syracuse’s district. However, the event was live streamed on the Metro Nashville Parks website.
“This park here is a very special place to a lot of neighbors,” Syracuse said during the ceremony. “It’s a very special partnership between Metro Parks and the Corps of Engineers.”
Syracuse said the house remaining in the park would make a great educational facility. He’s requested a master plan for the park and to secure $50,000 to start the process and engage all.
“We’re really excited we’re going to have a marker here now that explains why it was called that, what the history is behind that,” Reeves said.
According to the marker, in 1888, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sought to make water travel on the Cumberland River easier by regulating water levels with a series of locks and dams. Construction on Lock 2 began in 1882, and finished in 1907. By the end of the overall project in 1924, only 15 of the planned 26 locks were completed. Lock 2 Park was leased to Metro Parks since 1956.
Lee explained the original lock system used a wood coffer dam, primitive hand tools, A-frames and even animals to haul supplies and stone blocks on tracks from a rock quarry. He said Army engineers built Lock and Dam 2 between 1892 and 1907. It was 52 feet wide and 280 feet long. The dam and lock went into operation Oct. 9, 1909.
Bill Holman, grandson of former lockmaster Red Holman, wore a blue shirt and black mask he pulled down as he spoke at the podium. He said he had happy and fond memories growing up on the land.
“It is near and dear to my heart because I was born here,” Holman said, while he gestured across the area. “This is where I spent most of my life. I probably traveled that road more than anyone else ever has.”
He talked about a flood in 1937 when the water reached up the steps of his home there. He lived there until 1954, according to Lee.
The lock closed in 1956. The park at 2650 Lock Two Road currently has a ramp that provides access to the Cumberland River at mile marker 201. It also has a place to walk dogs, have a picnic and a creative playground. There’s a view of the river, as well. The park also has the lock keeper’s house, several out buildings, a lock wall and a river gauge on the concrete steps.