Low Bridge, Everybody Down… (Hometown Series)
(Day #4: 30-Day Blog Challenge)
Low bridge cause we’re coming to a town | And you’ll always know your neighbor | And you’ll always know your pal | If you’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal
Lockport gets it name because of the famous “Flight of Five Locks” that were built in 1823-1825. They were considered to be a wonder of the modern world because of the engineering marvels that the locks are. It was said by General Marquis de Lafayette in 1825, “Lockport and Niagara County contain the greatest natural (Niagara Falls) and artificial (Lockport Locks) wonders, second only to the wonders of freedom and equal rights.”
There was a major dilemma when it came to constructing the Erie Canal in this area because the east side of Lockport rests 70 feet below the canal (called the Niagara Escarpment which is on the same prehistoric geology that created Niagara Falls). This was the biggest challenge of building the entire canal in 1822. According to my mother-in-law, Michael’s great grandfather was in charge of handling the explosives that broke up the rock to allow the construction of the locks. A lot of the excess rock was used to build several buildings in the town and they still stand today. The building of these locks helped to grow Lockport and the architectural growth of the area boomed and became just as significant as the locks themselves.
The Locks needed to be reconstructed in 1910 but I imagine that it was very similar of this while they were building them originally.
This was the what the locks looked like from 1909-1918.
And this is what they look like today. I took Shawn for a walk a couple weeks ago down to the locks (we only live 2 minutes from there) to walk around because honestly, we don’t “look” at them often and he was just a baby when we took him on a boat ride through. This photo was taken on another Lockport engineering feat – The Widest Bridge (399′ wide x 129′ length) in North America which spans the canal to the southwest of the locks. (The bridge is turning 100 years old! You can read about it HERE.)
What happens is when a boat needs to come down (or up) the Erie Canal, it must wait for the water levels to even out on both sides of the Lock.
Here you can see where the water level normally is but it is much lower and the water begins to drain from one side to fill up this side.
Here is a better shot of the very top Lock as it fills up with water. It seems like it would take forever to drain water from one side to the next but it only takes a few minutes before it’s even on both sides.
And now that the water level is even on both sides, the boat is now able to move to the other side. The Locks open and the boat is able to pass on through. Shawn LOVED seeing the huge gears on the side that open and close the Locks and would have stayed there all day if I had let him. 🙂
Once the boat is on the next side, the water level begins to shift and lower the boat down until it is even with the next level of water.
Once the water levels are even the gates open up to the rest of the canal and they can go on their way.
The Locks and Erie Canal are something that really does make our area unique and that we take for granted. However when you really look at what it is, it truly is amazing that they figured out how to take boats essentially down a huge drop in elevation. It wasn’t until a few years ago when we took Shawn on his first boat ride, that I had even been through the Locks myself! I have lived here my entire life and had never even gone through them. I had watched them many times but that’s it. It was pretty neat to go through them and now that Shawn’s older we want to take him again. He would love it!
The Hometown Blog Series goes along with a postcard exchange with my Chatterbug blog friends. I thought it would be nice to show everyone more about my town and the interesting things that we are known for. Come back to see more highlights about my hometown and even some other interesting things about my area.