Erie Canal, New York

Day 403 

     The Erie Canal opened on October 26, 1825 and is 363 miles long, 40 feet wide and 4 feet deep. It runs from the Hudson River to Lake Erie. Construction began in 1817 and has 83 locks. The last obstacle of the construction was crossing the Niagara Escarpment, an 80-foot wall carved by the Niagara River, to rise to the level of Lake Erie. This was done by constructing two sets of five locks in a series, soon giving rise to the community of Lockport, where we are today. 

     At the time, in 1823, this was an engineering marvel. Creating 5 locks in series, each raising the river (or lowering it) 12 feet. It was called “The Flight of Five”.

     Today, they no longer exist. With modern technology, and the fact that there are now railroads and the St. Lawrence Seaway, this section of the Erie canal is used only by pleasure boats and tourists. In 1910, the Canal was modernized, which signaled the end of the boomtown of Lockport. Today, it is merely a tourist attraction (which attracted us).

     In walking this area, we came across this upside down railroad bridge. 

     An interesting side attraction we visited was Raceway Tunnel, invented by Birdsill Holly. Basically, he built a tunnel in which he diverted part of the water from the Niagara River through a tunnel to power a turbine that he used to run his manufacturing company, which produced a water system to combat fires. 

     This system did not catch on as communities thought it not practical and too expensive. That is until October 8, 1871 the day Chicago burned to the ground. 

     We hiked through the now unused and dry tunnel, and then took a short boat ride on part of the underground river. 

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