JOSEPH BAPTIST LOUIS DEROUIN, ENGINEER ON THE LOCK AND DAM NUMBER ONE

His name was Joe, his funeral notice referred to him as Joseph Derwin. His birth surname was Derouin. His Father was Georges Edouard Derouin, born in Canada 1848 and was French Canadian, whose mother tongue being Lower Canada, likely Quebec.

Georges Edouard Derouin came to United States sometime in the 1870s, as he is not in the census by that name previously. Family lore has it that Georges was a logger with fur trader background, acquired from his father. He married Susann, an illiterate who was born in Pennsylvania, she may have been of Indian descent, as is also the lore of the history of this family as well as a family member being an Indian doctor. Her parents were born in Pennsylvania.

George’s neighbor was Joseph Derouin, who was born 1851, who may have been Georges’ brother, uncle or cousin, who was also born in Canada. His wife was Elen who was born in PA, her parent’s being born in Ireland. The Earl Family, born in Ireland were close to them. Their children were living with each other’s families in the 1880 census.

Joseph was born 26th December 1877 in Clarion County, PA on one document and Clearfield County on another. His parents, Susann and George Edward (Edouard in Canada) Derouin and brother George Washington Derouin lived in North Houtzdale, Woodward Twp. Clearfield County, PA.

Joe’s life, as an orphan, from that day on is a mystery until 1900, where he is found on Windfall Road, St. Marys, Benzinger Twp., Elk Co., PA, working as a laborer, from there he went to McKean Co. where he married Margaret Anna Moyer from Upstate New York and started a family of seven, one being Helen Grace Derouin, the author‘s mother.

The family eventually traveled south to Allegheny County, PA. There they lived at 1321 Tell Street, in a next to the last, on the right, three story home on a dead end street in 1916. Later in July 1920 at 2216 Spring Garden Avenue. His daughter, Ella Mae, at age 14, worked at the Heinz Pickle factory and at this residence on 21st of December, 1921, Joseph Derouin died of pheumonia, at the age of 44. see photo









The year of 1920, Joseph was a diver, and employed as a Civil Engineer for the United States Army Corps of Engineers in Pittsburgh, PA earning monthly, one hundred and twenty dollars.

I searched until I found Joseph’s work place, just to tie up some loose ends of this history puzzle. I received his last wage statement, and it listed his work on the #1 Lock Allegheny. The location is, what is referred to today, as the ...

Old Lock Number One and Dam Allegheny


note: At Historic PittsburghProject: http://digital.library.pitt.edu/pittsburgh, an image can be found on page 157, under "Allegheny River", of the book, "Pittsburgh, Commemoration the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania" date: November 1930, originally published : Pittsburgh: Cramer Printing and Publishing Co.

In 2004, one one year passed, which I spent searching maps and history books. I made inquiries on the Allegheny Mailing List. There I was informed that the old lock was on the south bank upriver from the 16th St. Bridge. I checked numerous maps and surveyed the area to get a personal look at the riverbank.

I went to 23rd Street, which crosses Railroad Street. It is a construction, hard hat area now, and I was warned of the danger close to the river. It was the former South Shore Marina, as noted on a stone sign, they had moved their facility in Spring of 2006. see photo.......









The stone marker sign should read................

"The Former Old Lock #1 and Dam Allegheny, a reminder of all the souls who gave their life and some who lost their limbs and eyesight, erecting and maintaining the dam and lock. Some of which were the family of Derouin and Joseph’s in laws who paid a dear price for a way to feed their family. Likely, they loved their jobs, and gave their all to the cause of maintaining water levels and standing vigils during storms and floods."

The South Shore lock and movable dam project was adopted August 5, 1886, it was built 1894 - 1897, the dam in 1898-1902 at the cost of $591,187.42. The North Bank opposite is a cement retaining wall running alongside the Pittsburg and Western, (B. & O. R. R.) and River Avenue, just a1/8th of a mile from Joseph Derouin’s residence in 1916. see drawing



Captain George W. Boyle, Director of the Pennsylvania Boating Association and a U.S. Coast Gaurd Licensed captain has been generous with his information on the Allegheny River site of Old Lock #1. After communicating with Captain Boyle, I pressed him on about the exact location. He told me, he overheard a tow boat captain on the ship radio, announce, "Downbound at Old Lock #1." They communicate, "Pilot House to Pilot House," on frequency channel #13. They used the lock location as a position being upbound or downbound from that area.

Captain George informed me that is was only a slab of concrete, "The remnants of this lock are along the left descending bank of the river in the Lawrenceville section of the city." On his way to the Blessing of the Fleet in June of 2004, he observed that area. It is apparent that a marina used the remaining concrete wall as part of the support system for their docks. He says, " All that remains of Old Lock #1 is the concrete wall and the mooring bollards for tying up barges.

This area is fenced off at this writing. The wall of cement is an unmitigated, sheer dropoff. see photos:





Further downstream, in the water, is what appears to be the pump well for the Oil Well Supply Co.,which, in 1927, sat alongside the Balto. & Ohio R. R. All of this immediately southwest of the foot of 21st Street in the rear of The Strip District. see photos:







Following is Cap’t. George’s version of the dams: "When the Emsworth dam was built on the Ohio River a few miles downstream from the Pittsburgh Point, it raised the elevation of the water level in the Pittsburgh pool and made the old Lock #1s obsolete. The Pittsburgh pool was provided with navigational deep water from Emsworth to Braddock, PA on the Mon and up to Lock #2 Allegheny which is up at Highland Park and Aspinwall."

"The locks were numbered sequentially as they proceeded upstream from Pittsburgh and both the lock and the adjacent dam had the same numerical designation. The water that they contain in the pool above them is referred to as the pool for that particular dam. For instance, all the water in the Pittsburgh area is referred to as the Emsworth Pool."

I am so grateful to Captain George W. Boyle for all his information and direction to find photos and history of the dam. He can be found at Ask Captain George

I have much more material on the dam if anyone is interested, my email address is grayce@bentcom.net



compiled by Helen Grayce Petrick Ezarik 15 July 2006, 29 August, 1 September 2006


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