Since the initial installation of the first locks and dams on the Kentucky River in 1836, they have greatly impacted the economy, ecology and people of central Kentucky. The role the locks play in the region cannot be fully understood without historically evaluating them from the time of their construction until relatively recently. Although the locks and dams stand long since abandoned, they still have a significant effect on the environment they now disturb. The impoundment of the Kentucky River has in many ways irreparably damaged the flow of sediments, nutrients, the migration of fishes, as well as the population dynamics of species indigenous and endemic to the river. The Kentucky River, in its modified state now serves as the Bluegrass Region’s primary water source for the residents within its watershed. Given the reliance on the slackwater pools for municipal water sources, coupled with logistical impracticalities, removal of the locks and dams is unlikely to ever occur. Taking this into account, better conservation and management practices need to be implemented in order to ensure the sustainability of the Kentucky River for future generations.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 2012


Sherry L. Harrel

Mentor Department Affiliation

Biological Sciences

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Biological Sciences