Did I say we were glad we chose Lockport as our home base for this New York trip? Not only is the Elks lodge a $10 bargain, with 30-amp electric, water and nice, quiet surroundings, but we found several great restaurants and interesting places to investigate. We were pleasantly surprised to find the Erie Canal with walking path is just across the road from our spot. And Lockport, it turns out, is the largest lock site on the 363-mile Erie Canal system. This was the first transportation system connecting New York City with the Great Lakes.
The other day we decided to allot our day for exploring the history of the locks, taking the boat ride on the canal to experience the locks first hand and discovering a local restaurant. We were successful, almost. Guess what? The canal boat ride ceased operating for the season a few days before we arrived. Just our luck…again. That would have been a nice addition to our visit. But okay, there’s still a lot to see. The locks have their own history tour, etc. We learned at the history center of the arduous work of building the canal, through the Niagara Escarpment. The Flight of Five is the system of five locks that were built in Lockport to let boats travel from Buffalo all the way to Albany, across New York State. In fact, the day that we chose to take in this history was the 187th anniversary of the opening of the Erie Canal that took place in Lockport in 1825. The history center outlines in detail, including a simulated ride on a canal boat, the process of controlling the water so that boats can make the journey through 36 locks in the canal system, navigating a change in elevation of a total of 565 feet from beginning to end.
The Lockport locks are still in use, but in the early 1900s the system of five locks was modified into two. Now, Lockport is the only site on the western end of the Erie Canal that has an 1859 flights of locks parallel to a 1918 flight. You are able to see where the old locks were originally used with the tow-path for the mules to pull the canal boats along.
We learned that families lived on the boats in the summer season when they were operating their businesses up and down the canal. The young people who ran the mules that towed the boats or did other jobs were called “hoggees.” Of course, tourist trade and recreational activities are the main use of these canals today in our day of trains, planes and trucks. It’s interesting to reflect on this canal system and what part it played in developing industry and cities. And, especially, to think of the people that played a role in each and every segment of these developments that impacted the entire country.
But, so much for history. Now it’s time as I am writing this for us to concentrate on current developments. Of all things that might occur in New York in October, we are watching the approaching Hurricane Sandy! Our family is calling us with warnings and inquiries about the “frankenstorm” coming our way. There could be 60 mph wind gusts near Lake Erie. Okay! Forget the mail we ordered if it doesn’t arrive tomorrow morning. Our wheels are turning southwest by noon. By the time you are reading this we should be somewhere in Pennsylvania or Ohio, making our way to Indianapolis.
Thanks for visiting us at Hurley Travels. Stay safe.