LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — The city of Lockport is celebrating the bicentennial of the Erie Canal locks this weekend. To commemorate 200 years since ground breaking numerous events are happening in Lockport.
July 4, 1817 was the day shovels broke ground to dig the Erie Canal. It was completed 8 years later and it changed the way of life for people across the entire northeast. Steve Gosset, Spokesman for the Canal Club Association, told News 4, “It transformed NYS. It allowed cities like Buffalo, Rochester, Utica, and Syracuse to really become the cities that they are today in terms of manufacturing centers and hubs of commerce.”
The canal is no longer used primarily for manufacturing purposes but it is still well traveled. Gosset said, “We still have thousands of recreational boats, from yachts, to recreational kayaks and canoes that are on the canal every year.”
That traffic, doesn’t even include the Erie Canal Way trail nearby. Over 1.6 million people use the trail. So although old, many people are using the canal in new ways. That is something to celebrate! Gosset said, “They are very happy to welcome visitors, they are very happy they can tell the history of the town and they are happy to show off their towns.”
And showing off their town is exactly what residents of Lockport are doing today. Bike tours, walking tours, and a farmers market are part of the bicentennial celebration. They also are showing off the star of the show, the locks.
Jessica Dittley, Director of Lockport, Main St. Incorporated, told News 4, “We have lock tenders who are demonstrating how the locks actually functioned when they were originally constructed.”
To follow up those activities they are having food trucks, the Albany Orchestra on barge, and fireworks!
Dittley said, “The whole area is going to be shut down so you can sit on the bridges and just enjoy a really 360 view of the concert so it’s going to be a fantastic day all in all.”