Lockport in Niagara County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The first Lockport locks were designed by Nathan Roberts, who was in charge of constructing the Erie Canal from “the mountain ridge” at Lockport to Lake Erie. In 1822 he advertised for “1000 men wanted at Lockport - twelve dollars per month and found” (meaning room and board). Excavation for the locks and the “deep cut” channel section southwest of the locks required extensive blasting and drilling of rock.
Drill holes were packed with DuPont’s blasting powder, a newly invented explosive, which was far superior to gunpowder. Work on the locks and “the cut” was extremely dangerous due to careless and inexperienced blasting. The shattered rock was removed by timber derricks, powered by horse driven treadmills. Work continued through the winter. Holes drilled into the rock face were filled with water. the rock would crack and split as the water froze. The builders of the Erie Canal had a genius for improvisation.
The original Lockport
The combined locks were rebuilt on a larger scale between 1836 and 1847. Work on the enlarged Erie Canal was halted under the “Stop Law: of 1842, enacted in response to serve state debt. Work was resumed in 1847. The enlargement of the entire Erie Canal was not completed until 1862. The enlarged Lockport locks operated until the southern tier was removed in 1910 for construction of Lock 34 and 35 of the Erie Barge Canal.
The north tier of the combined locks was left intact and passed vessels during Barge Canal construction. The old locks today serve as a visible reminder of the genius of the first canal builders in New York State.
Sidebar on the right
Thomas Evershed (1817-1890)
As New York State Engineer, Evershed made numerous contributions, and served an important roll in canal development. By 1838, he was supervising the construction of both sets of combined “Flights of Five” locks in Lockport. (Marker Number 7.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Erie Canal series list.
Location. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2 Pine Street, Lockport NY 14094, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Great American Canal (a few steps from this marker); Lockport City Hall (a few steps from this marker); Old City Hall (a few steps from this marker); Upper Locks View (within shouting distance of this marker); Old Locks West (within shouting distance of this marker); Life on the Barges (within shouting distance of this marker); Hydraulic Race Control Gates (within shouting distance of this marker); Lower Lock Construction (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lockport.
More about this marker. This marker is located at the southwest end of the Pine Street Bridge.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on September 7, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 287 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 7, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.