Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Legendary Lockport

Landmark Society's day tour

Working in the field of preservation makes it obvious that I am fascinated by history and historic architecture, but more than that I am fascinated by the feats of victory and vision our ancestors had. With limited resources and exceptional hard- work, they accomplished results that sometimes it is hard to imagine in today’s age of technological advancement. We have gotten so used to our I- phones and laptops that we can’t imagine how life was before this! I felt this way when I went on a Landmark Society’s day tour to Lockport, the home of the “Flight of Five” Erie Canal locks. It was a feast to see such an example of architectural and engineering finesse built in a time and age when canal boats were pulled by horses and mules on the towpath. There were no cranes and lifts to do any work.

We started our day with a wonderful cruise of the Canal. On this two hour long tour we were able to go under the upside down bridge, experience “Locking through” by watching the lowering and raising by 49’ on Locks 34 & 35, observe the barge repair Dry Dock and see a combination of past and present with Flight of Five right next to the two modern locks built in early 20th century.

After this enjoyable cruise we had canal side lunch buffet in an 1840 renovated warehouse resembled to look like a 1800s canal town with its interesting art and architecture. From here we went on a tour of Niagara County Historical Society with a Victorian parlor, historic pantry and old toy room.

We also saw some other buildings on their premises. The most interesting being the Pioneer and transportation building. It was great education for me especially because I am an immigrant! There was an exhibit of Native American Iroquois and Tuscarora clan. I learnt that LaCrosse was invented by them. The second floor of the building was recreated as a Pioneer cabin with interesting artifacts like candle molds, a knitty-knotty and trundle beds.

Wait ! I am not done yet! After all this we had the funnest part of the day. I know funnest is not a word, but I felt like a kid when we went to the Erie Canal Discovery Center. This is a new multi- media interactive museum which transports visitors back to the opening of the Erie Canal. So now, we are putting technology to some good use. Here you can meet with the characters involved in the building of Erie Canal. Our narrator was Nathan Roberts- Chief engineer for the canal. A simulated night excursion in a packet boat lets visitors explore how canals work. In addition to this, there are beautiful exhibits talking about the history and making of the canal. My most favorite part was a miniature model of the canal locks that helps explain the concept. I felt like a kid doing my science experiment, it brought back memories of my childhood and made me realize how we are touched by the past in so many different ways!

It was a tour filled with fun and education about our history and engineering. It is a perfect tour to take with your kids and spend a wonderful family time together. We would like to thank all the people who took the tour with us and we hope to see you again this year too! Don’t forget to check out our website for 2010 tours at

We have lots of exciting and eventful locations planned for this year! Book your spot, they fill up soon......................

Posted by Nimisha Thakur, preservation associate

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