5/31/14 Saturday in Lockport, NY (Niagara Lazy Lakes-ROD)
Lazy morning is all I’m going to say. We did manage a long campground walk before lunch.
After lunch was another story. We went to Lockport, NY and the Erie Canal Cruises. When we found the proprietor for that business we asked for information on the Canal since we really just wanted to explore it, not pay for a cruise on it.
She was kind, sharing a map with where the locks were as well as a Discovery Center and Museum. It was such a beautiful day we took off walking, following an old gravel road marked as the walkway to the locks, arriving in just 5 minutes.
On the way we saw the “Upside Down Railroad” Bridge:
Note the path (tow path) to the left of the Erie Canal? It follows the Canal from Buffalo to the Hudson River and Atlantic Ocean. This was where the mules walked as they pulled boats along the Canal. Now people walk and bike along it.
Lo and behold that very boat was from the Cruise company, headed for the locks! The gate opens to let the boat in, captured between 2 now closed gates. Then water fills the area and lifts the boat. Then the far gate opens to let the boat continue to the 2nd lock. I noted that the water from the Lake Eire was higher than that at the Atlantic Ocean, so it naturally flows down to the Ocean. Apparently the locks make that journey smoother for boats (eliminates rapids?).
To quote from the NPS brochure: “The Erie Canal opened vast areas of the upper Midwest to settlement and commercial agriculture because it was the first reliable, inexpensive way to carry heavy, bulky cargo between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Seaboard.
Connecting to New York City ia the Hudson River at Albany, the canal exploited the only low-elevation passage through the eastern mountain chains between Georgia and Canada. Alternative routes via the Ohio and Mississippi rivers or St. Lawrence River took longer to navigate and were subject to delays from flood, drought, and ice. These routes also reached tidewater far from major population centers…….Other canals… lacked such topographical advantage…” that the Erie Canal has.
This canal was originally built by hand between 1817 and 1825. To overcome the 49 foot Niagara Escarpment, Lockport was chosen as the location of the “Flight of Five”, twin sets of 5-tiered locks allowing boats to travel up in one set and down in the other. When the canal was enlarged in the early 1900s, one set was retained to be a spillway while the other was replaced by the current Locks 34 and 35. They are restoring the set that has served as a spillway now, even getting down through the sediment to the original wood. We couldn’t see that far down, what with the construction and all, but we’ll share what we could see. Those wood doors were make in Tonawanda from White Oak. They’re not using that for the other door because it was so expensive, they’re using steel.
At this point we were enticed by the recommended Lake Effect (cold) Artisan Ice Cream. It was superb!
Other places we visited pictured below. Note: The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor is part of the NPS (National Park System), so you can get your Passport book stamped at the Erie Canal Discovery Center.
Such a fun afternoon. We came home to the usual evening routine, plus a little campfire time with our neighbors.