High Water Temporarily Closes Lock, Ferries

The Cheatham Lock and Dam on the Cumberland closed for four days due to high water while two ferries, one crossing the Ohio River and one the Lower Mississippi, remain closed.

“The Corps’ Cumberland River Basin system of reservoirs was well prepared for recent rainfall,” said Heather King, a spokeswoman for the Nashville Engineer District. “Our storage reservoirs upstream of Nashville performed as intended by storing water, thereby reducing water levels along the Cumberland River. During the rainfall event, conditions along the Cumberland River were unfavorable for navigation, resulting in the closing of the navigation lock at Cheatham Lock and Dam from February 23 through February 27, 2021. However, the Nashville district provided advanced notice to its navigation partners, mitigating impact and risk. Stages along the Cumberland River remain elevated at this time as we discharge water stored during the rainfall event. Currently there are no additional impacts noted at this time.”

The Louisville Engineer District reported no major impacts in that district.

The National Weather Service forecast office in Paducah, Ky., extended a flood warning for the Ohio River on March 2, but added that the river was continuing to crest from Owensboro, Ky., to Golconda, Ill., and that dry weather should allow for a slow fall into the next week. 

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The Cave-in-Rock Ferry over the Ohio River between Crittenden County, Ky., and Hardin County, Ill., closed at 6 p.m. February 25 as water covered Ky. 91, blocking access to the Kentucky landing. The ferry is located at Ohio Mile 881.0.

Based on the forecast for the Ohio River, the ferry was expected to remain closed until sometime after March 8, although the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet noted that closure could be extended if there is additional substantial rainfall.

The closure of the ferry turns a 20-minute trip into a 70-minute detour for commuters. The ferry is also a tourism link between the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois and the Amish community in Kentucky.

Up-to-date information about the ferry’s operating status will be posted on its Facebook page at You do not have to be a Facebook member to access this page.

High water on the Mississippi River led to the closure of the Dorena-Hickman Ferry at 11 a.m. February 26. Ferry service between Hickman, Ky., and Dorena, Mo., is expected to remain halted until at least March 9, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The ferry is located at Lower Mississippi Mile 922.0. 

Motorists may check on the ferry’s operating status by calling (731) 693-0210 or by going to