Field Station at Thomas More College



The Thomas More College Biology Field Station was the former site of Lock and Dam 35, one of 51 such facilities built by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Land for the complex was obtained by the federal government from several sources beginning in the 1910's. A total of 12.73 acres were purchased originally for $3030.00. The construction on Lock and Dam 35 was begun in 1914 and completed in the 1919. The initial complex included a chanoine weir wicket dam with rolling lock gates, a lockhouse or power house, warehouse and four worker's cottages. Three additional cottages, a boiler garage, and storage shed were added later.

The beginning


The College acquired the 25-acre site in 1967 from the federal government through a grant written by Sister Mary Laurence and Fr. Herman Kamlage. For the first 30 years of the Field Station, the College shared joint ownership with the Federal Government. Provided the facility was used exclusively for research and educational purposes, the property was to be turned over to the College in 1997, at which time we took over sole ownership of the place.

Bishop Richard H. Ackerman, Kentucky Governor Edward Breathitt and Msgr. John F. Murphy. Taken in Columbus Hall at Villa Madonna College on the occasion of transfer of the Ohio River Dam property to the College. April 19, 1967.

Field Station Quick Claim Deed

Students by the river (1976).


In 1997, through a grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation, the Field Station underwent a major renovation project and now includes a state-of-the-art research facility, with two laboratories, a museum and a classroom. In addition, the site contains seven residential structures, a maintenance building, a nature trail and a fleet of research boats.

During the renovation period

The state of disrepair of the lock house when first purchased by then Villa Madonna College.


In 1998, the Center for Ohio River Research and Education (C.O.R.R.E.) was established. The Center offers students, faculty and staff an opportunity to enhance their knowledge of the natural world through field courses, research projects and outreach programs that focus on the ecology of the Ohio River. The Center welcomes students of all ages from grade schools to graduate schools and visitors from the general public. The Center functions within the Department of Biological Sciences at Thomas More College and works towards providing advancing the academic careers of our undergraduate students with a focus on advancement towards graduate programs.

Illustration of the program development.


In 2011, the College completed a capital campaign for the Field Station, raising $1.6M, anchored by a $500K challenge grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation. From this campaign, a new education and conference center was built. The building was constructed by first renovating and integrating two of the original L&D houses and then building a new section in between.

The lodge plan.

The completed lodge.

The lounge in the lodge.

The Lodge consists of 11 dorm rooms, each with a bunk bed, a full kitchen, living area and smart classroom. Recently, the building received L.E.E.D. certification by the U.S. Department of Energy and is the College's first certified green building on campus.

Along with the Lodge, the Sister Mary Laurence Outdoor Classroom and nearby Interpretive Nature trail were developed, both serving to host outreach educational events and social activities.