The Loading Dock concept was conceived in 1989 when we peeked through a broken windowpane of the former Boatworks machine shop and saw the fabulous view of the palisades downriver. We decided the space had a better use, so in 1992 we established the Loading Dock Bar & Grill.
The following year we witnessed the Great Flood of 1993 which swept through the Grafton community. Eight feet of water stood on our restaurant floor preventing us from opening that season. Undaunted, we operated successfully, and wished away water, until a fire destroyed our building in November of 1999.
2001 was a great year for us when we opened our new facility. Designed to withstand future flooding, we placed utilities high above ground, placed equipment on wheels for easy evacuation, and constructed anything permanent out of steel or concrete.Our walls are made of steel garage doors with glass panes; we raise them to let the water flow through if the situation arises, but generally we open them daily to welcome guests and river breezes.
The adjacent Boatworks building has been the site of boat construction for over 100 years. Many styles were built here, notably, paddle wheelers in the late 1800's, barges in the mid-1900's, and finally gunboats during the Vietnam War.
It is said that you can still see the bullet holes in the trees growing on the islands in the river where they tested the boats' equipment. This site was also the location of a former ferry which dates back to the Civil War.
The Loading Dock is regularly visited by large ships including the Delta Queen and the U. S. Coast Guard cutters and buoy tenders, as well as passenger cruise vessels. In November 2002, a new ferry began crossing the river just a little upstream from us, putting the Loading Dock within 12 miles of downtown St. Charles.