Wilson Navigation Lock is one of 10 locks (14 locks if including auxiliary locks) located on the 650-plus navigable miles in the Tennessee River Basin. The original project was completed by the Corps in 1927. In 1959, the Tennessee Valley Authority completed the main single-lift lock, along with several related improvements, to replace the old and inadequate double-lift lockage system. It began operating Nov. 10. 1959. The modified auxiliary lock was reopened on Feb. 9, 1961. TVA owns the project; the Corps is responsible for navigation and is charged to operate and maintain the locks.
The main lock is a single chamber measuring 110-feet wide and 600-feet long. On average 10 million tons of commodities are transported through the lock every year, which include wheat, corn, scrap metal, and chemicals. There are more than 1,000 lockages for recreational traffic each year. It is the highest single lift lock east of the Rocky Mountains with a normal lift of between 93 and 100 feet.