The Erie Barge Canal at Lockport

The Erie Barge Canal at Lockport (HM1EYV)

Location: Lockport, NY 14094 Niagara County
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Country: United States of America
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N 43° 10.588', W 78° 41.126'

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The New York State Barge Canal System is 524 miles long of which 348 miles is within the Erie Barge Canal. Although water depths vary, the depth of the water in the Lockport section is approximately 8 - 12 feet.

The Lockport Locks Nos. 34 and 35 would accommodate a barge up to 43.5 feet wide, 15 feet high and lift them 49 feet vertically.

In 1825, when the Erie Canal was opened, a single horse or mule would tow a boat. Teams of horses or mules were later used when the canal was enlarged to accommodate larger vessels.

The boats would often carry two shifts of animals and crew who would rotate for six hour work periods. Work was sometimes hazardous - especially at night or when the towpath was slippery - since the towpath was often high above the water with no safety rail being possible due to the tow lines needed. Animals and riders were lost by falling off the towpath into the water - especially in walled sections of the canal or where no "horse holes" or areas to be helped up the steep banks or walls were present.

Strong winds could hold an empty boat against the bank or wall and make towing impossible and sinking boats would slow down other traffic. Sinking boats that were top-heavy would often capsize and dump their cargo; others went down cargo and all; grain boats would swell up and necessitate the use of dynamite and dredging. Concrete barges were tried experimentally, but minor accidents created holes or cracks that were difficult to mend and they sank decisively. Salvage, pumping, dredging and towing to drydocks were critical operations to maintain the flow of traffic.

Commercial enterprises were present along the canal with stores and shops built as close to the towpath as possible. Farmers with produce stands, grocers, and other merchants selling goods and supplies all contended for the potential business offered by passing vessels.

Although the commercial traffic has passed its prime on the canal, recreational use of the waterway is estimated at 55,000 pleasure craft per year, and the towpath provides many miles of hiking or bicycling potential. The "widewaters" in the canal - previously used as a boat turnaround - has provided areas for marinas in Lockport and other cities and villages. Much of the adjacent land along the canal offers pleasant use as park and greenspace for leisure activities.

Series This marker is part of the Erie Canal series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, October 13th, 2014 at 1:10pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17T E 688119 N 4783012
Decimal Degrees43.17646667, -78.68543333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 43° 10.588', W 78° 41.126'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds43° 10' 35.28" N, 78° 41' 7.56" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)716, 585
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 2-8 Mill St, Lockport NY 14094, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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