Monday, July 25, 2011

Erie Canal, Lockport, NY

The Erie Canal System, consisiting of the Erie, Cayuga-Seneca, Oswego and Champlain Canals, includes 524 miles of canals connecting the Great Lakes to the St. Lawrence Seaway, bypassing Niagara Falls. Currently there are 36 locks, with a combined elevation drop of 526 ft. These locks were completed in 1918. But the original Erie Canal was started in 1818 and completed in 1825 with 83 locks.

The locks in Lockport are a double set of locks with a combined elevation change of 49 ft.

These are one of the double sets of locks originally built in Lockport. The other set of locks was enlarged in 1918, although this smaller set of locks remained in service until the 1920s when they were converted to a spillway.

There were about 17 of us who decided to kayak the locks in Lockport.

Here we sit under one of the world's widest bridges waiting for the lock to open for us. This bridge is only 129 feet long, but 399 feet wide. Above is not only a 4 lane street, but a parking lot.

Sitting in the lock waiting for the gates to shut.

The gates are shut and the water is released so we can kayak out to the lower level. And we got to do it all over again since this is a double lock.

Thomas Jefferson was approached about national funding for the Erie Canal, but he refused to consider national funding, so the state of New York funded the entire construction of the canal. It lost its importance as a commercial waterway after the trains became common, but it is still in use today, mainly for recreational use. All along the waterways are hiking and biking paths, campgrounds and marinas for traveling boats.

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