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After 12 Years, Wilson Lock Reopens to the Public

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – It’s literally the largest landmark in the Shoals and for the last 12-years public access has been restricted due to security concerns.

On Friday morning security was lifted and the public will once again be able to visit the historic navigational lock located at Wilson Dam.

Other than a few employee vehicles in the Wilson Lock parking lot all is quiet right, but that’s expected to change.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the visitor gates Friday morning for the first time since September 11, 2001.

“On a daily basis at the visitor’s center, people would come in and ask can we go to the locks, how can we see the dam,” explained Alison Stanfield with Florence-Lauderdale Tourism. “You could drive over it, and you could lock through it, but other than that there was just no access.”

After terrorist attacks rocked the United States, the visitor’s center at the Wilson Lock was immediately shutdown.

The Corps of Engineers recently decided to open the lock to visitors on weekends and federal holidays through-out the year.

A move which has Alison Stanfield reminiscing about the memories generations enjoyed here.

“You would take your kids there on an afternoon that you had nothing to do, that’s just what the community did. On almost any given time day or night you could see people from literally all over the country there,” said Stanfield.

And now generations to come will be able to take in and learn about.

Wilson Lock will be open to the public Friday through Sunday from 7am in the morning until 7pm.

As of right now there are no plans to reopen the visitor centers at Wheeler Dam or Pickwick Dam.