Day 14 – Chilo Lock 34 Visitors Center and Museum

It’s Day 14 (Year 2) of “365 Things to do in Cincinnati” and today we’re featuring our trip out “east” with our post on Chilo Lock 34 Visitors Center, Museum and Park.

Today it’s hard to imagine the Ohio River levels dropping to just 1′ to 2′ deep in the summertime.  But that was exactly what happened to the river levels prior to the creation of Chilo Lock #34 in 1925.  Those levels made it impossible to guarantee Ohio River travel in the summer.

Located on Rt. 52 on the Ohio River Scenic Byway in Clermont County, Chilo Lock and Dam #34 Park is the site of the former US Army Corps of Engineers wicket dam on the Ohio River.  The Chilo dam is no longer operational, having been replaced by Meldahl Lock and Dam in the 1960’s.  But in its “day”, Chilo and its community of workers provided higher river levels and ensured safe passage for river travelers.

wooden wickets from the old dam, now on display in the Chilo #34 Museum

The Museum and surrounding park provide a wonderful glimpse back in time to when this was a thriving community centered around the work of the dam.  Some of the worker’s housing still stands (see the picture at the top of this post) as does the silo which provided the community with water.

Chilo Lock #34 is now a park (part of the Clermont County Park District) with a Visitor’s Museum housed in what used to be the Lock’s center for operations.

Inside the museum you’ll find all kinds of river and dam memorabilia and information.  Within its three levels, the museum has lots of interactive displays and provides lots of detail on the history of the dam.

You can also enjoy a self guided tour of the old Chilo community when you walk along the Ohio River.   There are numerous informational signs all along the paved path that runs along the Ohio River.

Plan to spend the day outside when you visit Chilo Lock 34.  Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at the picnic tables at the park here or enjoy a leisurely afternoon from a bench along the Ohio River.  Adjacent to Chilo Lock 34 Park you’ll find Crooked Run Nature Preserve.  Crooked Run offers over a mile of hiking trails with three observation blinds which offer wonderful views.  The attendent in the museum told us it’s a great place for birdwatching and that people often see eagles.

If you go out to Chilo Dam be sure to also stop by the birthplace of Ulysses S. Grant which is close by.

Chilo Lock #34 is located at 521 County Park Road.
Please check with the Visitor Center for their hours (513-876-9013).  At the time of this post the museum and the park were both free.



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  • wow. I was just there on Sept 11th for my b-day!!! the time stamp caught my attention. I love this place.

    When I was a kid my mother used to take me there. It wasn’t open like it is now. There was only one access road. The dairy bar was there I think. I remember as a kid thinking to myself how why was there doors on the second floor though no stairs ( from the back of the buliding facing the park, museum entrance )

  • This park and natural reserve is a really great place for history and beauty. My family has had our family reunion there every single year. It is a great park for young and old. there are nature trails and now they have the beautiful museum that you can go to now. My kids love it when we go there. They have a playground to play on, the museum to look at, and the trails to walk. While we are at the park we eat our picnic. Which is usually the fried chicken from IGA. Then after that we go and get an ice cream from the dairy bar in Chilo. It is a great place to go to have a day of adventure and fun.

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