Love Locks

Hearts are forever secured to the Lake Murray Dam

Ah, Paris — the world’s city

for lovers! Nothing says “I love you” like an evening under the Eiffel Tower or a cozy dinner for two in a candle-lit French restaurant.

However, less than a decade ago, lovers in Paris created a new tradition. They began etching initials and love messages on padlocks, attaching them to bridges, and tossing the keys into the waters below. Many of the locks adorned the iron fences of the Pont des Arts, a footbridge crossing the Seine from the Louvre to the Left Bank, as well as the Pont de l’Archevêché near Notre Dame Cathedral.

With a nod to the city of trends, the locks took hold in the United States. These unbreakable signs of love began showing up on the fencing of the Lake Murray Dam, creating the area’s own bridge of romance. Each lock is personal — expressing loving remembrances for those serving in our armed forces, beloved family members long gone, the young love of secret admirers, and marriages that remained strong after many years. Love locks have formed a monument of romance for the entire world to see.

Locks of all colors and shapes reveal first names or sometimes only initials. Some are dated; others are not. Securely attached, they expose a lasting declaration of affection. And, deep underwater, only a scuba diver witnesses the many thousands of keys forever separated from their locks.

On a sunny day, the locks glisten over the water. No longer reserved just for romance, they also commemorate happy and sad occasions: the birth of children, the moving on of a loved one, the death of a favorite pet. Some are more personalized with good luck charms like ribbons floating in the breeze or strings of attached sea shells, pebbles, and coins. The result is artistic, textural, and unique with the illusion of a living collage.