The boatsmen had a hard life. But the locktenders did too, because they couldn't go nowhere. They had to be on the job all the time. - Harvey Brant, Locktender, Lock 44.
The canal company supplied locktenders with a house next to the lock which enabled them to work the lock day and night. The house provided more than a roof over their heads: it was a stable home for their families. For children, used to the transient canal boat life, a permanent home meant a chance to attend school and make lasting friends.
In addition to the house, locktenders received a small monthly salary and an acre of land. The low pay meant that locktenders had to supplement their incomes. A garden plot helped put food on the table and any excess produce could be traded with boatmen for coal and other necessities. Women baked bread or pies for trade. Children contributed by helping in the garden and at the lock, as well as by fishing or hunting muskrats for the canal company's bounty reward.
[text with 1st photo lower right] The son of the last locktender at Lock 28, Willie Fulton, Jr., and his family continued to call the lockhouse home for many years after the canal stopped running.
[text with 2nd photo lower right] The Keefer family lived at Lock 75 from 1914 until 1955.