Navigation was the Corps of Engineers’ earliest Civil Works mission, dating to Federal laws in 1824 authorizing and funding the Corps to improve safety on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and several ports. The Corps provides safe, reliable, efficient, and environmentally sustainable waterborne transportation systems (channels, harbors, and waterways) for movement of commerce, national security needs, and recreation.
Walla Walla District staff designed, built and operate some of the highest lift locks in the world, with an average lift of more than 100 feet. Our navigation locks on the Snake and Columbia rivers help provide a navigable waterway 465 miles inland from Astoria, Oregon, to Lewiston, Idaho. The District’s five navigation locks passed a total of 15,325,690 tons of cargo and commodities in 2020. McNary alone accounted for 4,691,390 tons of this total. Approximately 81.7% of this total tonnage was wheat and rye products, and 4.1% was a total combination of fuel for vehicles and fuel oil for home heating. Wood and fertilizer products constituted most of the remaining tonnage.