During the early twentieth century, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction of a series of dams and boat locks at intervals along the Ohio River for flood control and navigation aids. Each of these locations required a team of Corps employees to operate and maintain the site, and since many were in remote locations with limited housing resources, homes were also constructed as housing for the lockkeepers. The Dam 51 homes were built and first occupied in 1928-1929.
With construction of the new Smithland Lock and Dam and creation of the Smithland Pool, Lock and Dam 51 was no longer needed and subsequently removed. The Corps of Engineers abandoned the property in 1980, and the houses deteriorated from lack of maintenance for nearly two decades.
In 1998 the City of Golconda attained ownership of the property, with the stipulation that the houses be restored to their original condition, true to original design. In an effort to preserve the houses, the City of Golconda and Main Street Golconda Inc. entered into an agreement to renovate these dwellings for the purpose of overnight lodging. After construction was completed in February 2002 the site was leased to Dam 51 LLC, a volunteer organization which maintains the homes and offers them to the public.
Open year round.
Golconda, IL 62938