The Dresden Island Lock & Dam was built in the early 1930s as part of a project to increase the navigation channel to a 9-foot depth. The project was named after Dresden Island, the small island just downstream of the dam. As the river is currently arranged, navigation traffic exits the lock on the south side of the island, but water flowing through the gates of the dam flow past the north side of the island.
There is no observation deck at this location, so photographing lock traffic is difficult. There is also a chain link fence along the lock area, which increases the difficulty of getting good photos. The Lock & Dam can be accessed from the north via the I&M Canal tow path, but that only gives access to the earthen dike section of the dam. The visitors area by the lock is accessed by taking the highway to the Dresden Island Nuclear Power Plant, then following signs to the Lock & Dam.