Originally built in 1826 for visionary businessman Lyman A. Spalding, the smaller three-story stone building built on this site became the Norman & Evans Iron Foundry. After the building burned in 1840, it was rebuilt several times and enlarged to an impressive seven story "Electric Building" by Charles E. Dickinson, making it one of the tallest buildings in Lockport at the time. A hydraulic race from the Canal passed through the seventh story of this towering old stone building. The Electric Building was one of America most unique industrial structures, with features designed by Birdsill Holly and his friend/fellow inventor Thomas A. Edison, and was a tribute to their ingenuity. The water power derived from the hydraulic raceway on the south side of the canal at the Niagara Escarpment powered all of Lockport street lights (free of charge to the citizens of Lockport at the time). You are now standing on what was the sixth story of the Electric Building.
Note the huge pipe, which in a way resembles a railroad engine, projecting out into the "natural basin" of the canal. This is the canal discharge conduit. As the water level of Lock 34 is lowered, the water escaping from the lock chamber is released through the conduit. On occasion, water shoots like a geyser high into the air from this device.
Sidebar on the right
"Invention is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration."
Thomas Alva Edison (1853-1934),
best remembered for inventing the incandescent electric light bulb, phonograph, and improvements to the telegraph, telephone and motion pictures, held patents on a record 1,093 inventions. That is the most U.S. patents issued to a single person.