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Lockport in Niagara County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Lock Construction

 
 
Lock Construction Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 2, 2014
1. Lock Construction Marker
Caption: Workers who graded and set timbers for the track on which the cantilever crane operated (left).
Inscription. From the original Erie Canal to the Barge Canal System, crossing the Niagara Escarpment posed immense challenges to canal engineers.

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 DuPontís 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 locks were completed on June 25, 1825. Within a short time the locks, like the entire canal, proved too small to handle the large volume of boat traffic.

The combined locks were rebuilt
Lock Construction Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 2, 2014
2. Lock Construction Marker
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.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Erie Canal marker series.
 
Location. 43° 10.241′ N, 78° 41.576′ W. Marker is in Lockport, New York, in Niagara County. Marker is on Pine Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2 Pine Street, Lockport NY 14094, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance
Lock 35 from the Pine Street Bridge image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 2, 2014
3. Lock 35 from the Pine Street Bridge
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.
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels
 
Monument to the Pioneer Engineers next to the Lock Construction Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 2, 2014
4. Monument to the Pioneer Engineers next to the Lock Construction Marker
Erected August 16, 1975
In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the original locks which opened a connecting waterway between the Hudson River and the Great Lakes.
This completion of the Erie Canal was the opening of a door to the settling of the West.
Tribute must be paid to the engineers of that age who surveyed and designed this project with antiquated instruments and little engineering experience.
These men were the pioneers of American Engineering.

Ereected by
American Society of Civil Engineering
Buffalo Section

American Consulting Engineers Council
Western New York Chapter

National Society of Professional Engineers
Erie-Niagara Chapter
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 7, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 225 times since then and 29 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 7, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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