On the lower part of the Monongahela, commercial traffic is quite heavy, and it would be unusual to cruise here without seeing a tow with barges carrying coal, limestone, petroleum or steel. Because of the numerous bridges and limited maneuverability of craft on the river, boaters should use extreme caution.
In the upper portion of the river, it becomes quite narrow, and care should be exercised when rounding a bend or cruising at night.
An incidental hazard for Monongahela boaters will be the unusually heavy drift caused by bank erosion in the areas where pool elevations have been changed and dams removed, particularly around Maxwell Lock & Dam. Also, due to the changes caused by the elimination of the pool of Lock & Dam 5, there are many spots that are now shoal in this area. Buoys have been placed, but it is best to stick close to the sailing line.
The two upper locks, Hildebrand and Opekiska, do not operate 24 hours a day, but only 12:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. A boater desiring lockage should plan to arrive at the lock not later than 8 p.m.
Locks replacing Locks & Dams 7 and 8 on the middle Monongahela River have been completed. Both have 720- by 84-foot lock chambers. Point Marion Lock & Dam, replacing Lock & Dam 8, was finished in 1994; Grays Landing Lock & Dam, replacing Lock & Dam 7, in 1995.
Five of the named locks are equipped with floating mooring bitts. In Braddock Lock & Dam and the numbered locks, there is no such provision, and boaters should be prepared with at least 75 feet of line secured to the bow of the boat and ready to drape over a hook that the lock tender will lower to the boat. The lock tender will haul up the line and run it around a bollard at the top of the lock wall. The boater can then hold the end that remains in the stern of the boat and take up or let out as the boat rises or falls in the lock.
Monongahela River Lock Mile Markers
Braddock Locks & Dam: 11.2
Locks & Dam 3: 23.8
Locks & Dam 4: 41.5
Maxwell Locks & Dam: 61.2
Grays Landing Lock & Dam: 82.0
Point Marion Lock & Dam: 90.8
Morgantown Lock & Dam: 102.0
Hildebrand Lock & Dam: 108.0
Opekiski Lock & Dam: 115.4