The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway is a marvel of modern engineering. When it was opened for commercial traffic in January of 1985, it was the completion of a dream that had begun more than 100 years before.

The waterway forms a 234 mile long, 300 feet wide by 9 feet deep transportation artery connecting west-central Alabama and northeastern Mississippi. Made up of a series of ten locks, each measuring 110 feet by 600 feet, it provides a lift of 341 feet. It connects this part of the nation with the existing 16,000 mile inland waterway system and shortens shipping distances for many inland ports by over 800 miles.

Since the completion of the waterway, commercial tonnage has increased continuously. An average 8 barge tow can move as much freight as 120 rail cars or 480 tractor trailer trucks. A barge can move a ton of freight twice as far as a train and 6 times as far as a tractor trailer truck on the same amount of fuel. The most popular commodities shipped by barge are forest products (timber and wood chips), petroleum by-products, crushed rock and grains.

The locking through of waterway traffic is handled through the operation of a control panel in the lock master's building. To fill the 110 x 600 foot chamber, the gates at both ends must be closed and aligned. The chamber fills by force of gravity and takes about 10 minutes to fill. It takes about 14 million gallons of water to fill the chamber.

Lock Information



 Howell Heflin Lock 266.0 109.0 101.0
 Tom Bevill Lock 306.8 136.0 122.0
 John C. Stennis Lock 334.7 163.0 161.0
 Aberdeen Lock 357.5 190.0 188.0
 Amory Lock 371.1 220.0 ---
 Glover Wilkins Lock 376.3 245.0 ---
 Fulton Lock 391.0 270.0 ---
 John Rankin Lock 398.4 300.0 ---
 G.V. Montgomery Lock 406.7 330.0 ---
 Jamie Whitten Lock 411.9 S-414.0; W-408.0 ---

 * Navigation miles from Bankhead Tunnel (U.S. Highway 90) in Mobile, Ala.

** Elevations refer to National Geodetic Vertical Datum

*** Tailwater Elevation at the lock












Lockage Schedule

Waterway locks are operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Lockages are made on demand, subject to lockage priorities, except on weekends and federal holidays, at all locks except Howell Heflin Lock. The lockage schedule for pleasure craft on affected days are as follows:

  • Heflin Lock - On Request
  • Bevill, Stennis, Aberdeen, Wilkins, Rankin and Whitten Locks - 6, 8, 10 A.M., Noon, 2, 4, 6, & 8 P.M.
  • Amory, Fulton, and Montgomery Locks - 5, 7, 9, 11 A.M., 1, 3, 5, & 7 P.M.

Lockage Priority

  1. U.S. Military Craft
  2. Commercial Passenger Craft
  3. Commercial Tows
  4. Commercial Fisherman
  5. Pleasure Boats

Radio Channels Used By Locks

Standby Channel: All Locks - Channel 16

Working Channel: Wilkins Lock - Channel 10; Aberdeen & Montgomery Locks - Channel 12; Heflin, Bevill, Stennis, Amory, & Rankin Locks - Channel 14; Whitten Lock - Channel 18; Fulton Lock - Channel 74

Lockage Procedures

When approaching the lock, wait for the proper signal; then enter at a reduced speed. Safety is the prime consideration when locking any type vessel through a lock.  Lock operators must require all people on a deck outside handrails, all children under twelve years of age, the person catching and/or tending a line, and any other person the duty operator considers in danger of falling overboard to wear personal flotation devices (life jackets) when locking through each lock on the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway.

All vessels must have a mooring line and must be properly secured to a mooring bit (not a fixed bit) prior to the beginning of lockage. Floating mooring bits have the potential to become stuck, either by debris or damage to the bit or recess tracks, causing the bit to not rise or fall with the water level. To prevent accidents involving stuck floating mooring bits, vessels are instructed to “loop” the mooring line around the floating mooring bit instead of actual tying off to the bit or boat cleat.  Once the mooring line is looped around the floating mooring bit, a person either holds the line in his/her hand or loops around cleat on vessel in manner that line can be released from the bit or cleat quickly to avoid the vessel being pulled by a stuck mooring bit.

Wait for the lock operator's signal to leave the lock and travel at a reduced speed. For your own safety, vessel operators must obey all directions given by the lock operator. Restricted areas around the locks are indicated by buoy lines and signs.  These areas are restricted for all activities including fishing.