Lockport has 22,000 residents and a diverse and prosperous business community. There are more than 50 manufacturing firms in Lockport and over 850 retail / commercial establishments in the town and city of Lockport combined.
Once the New York State Legislature authorized the construction of the Erie Canal, with a four-foot deep and forty-foot wide channel, the route through the wilderness was surveyed to present day Lockport and west to Tonnawanda on the Niagara River. Once construction began in 1821, the town was named Lockport and grew from the influx of engineers, merchants, lawyers, doctors, etcetera as well as 1200 canal laborers. During the canal construction, it was a village of log cabins nd in 1824, the Town of Lockport was organized.
By the time the canal opened in 1825, the population grew to 2500, and the town began to have two parts, Upper Town and Lower Town. Soon Lockport had a newspaper, hotel, and cotton, flour and saw mills. For many years, Lockport was the flour center of Western New York, with the newly wealthy building beautiful stone and brick mansion along Market Street from Chapel Street east to Lake Avenue. Most of these homes are still standing and give newcomers the mistaken idea that Lockport started in Lower Town.
By 1838, traffic had increased and the canal was enlarged to a seven-foot depth and seventy-foot width, though the work was not completed until 1860, and during this period waterpower was curtailed, adversely affecting local industries. Soon the town had a rail connection as well. By 1881, the tolls collected ($42 million) to pay for the canal had shown a surplus and tolls were discontinued, continuing the growth in canal traffic. .Between 1909 and 1918, the canal was enlarged again and two new locks installed.
With the advent of truck transportation an the Interstate Highways, the canal suffered a great loss of traffic, more so than caused by the railroads. Since 1956, the tonnage carried on the canal has decreased by fifty percent. Today, the use of pleasure boats on the canal is ever increasing, as people seek to explore the history of the Erie Canal.
Colonel William Bond House
143 Ontario St.,
Built in 1824, it was the first brick house to be built in Lockport. Twelve rooms have been restored with pre-Victorian era furnishings. It is operated by the Niagara County Historical Society. The Colonel William Bond House is open 1-5 p.m. on Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and by appointment. Donations are accepted.
Lockport Canal Museum
located at the base of locks 34-35
The Lockport Canal Museum shows the history of one of the world’s greatest engineering feats, the Erie Barge Canal. The canal was built in just eight years, from 1817 to 1825, and expanded travel to the west by connecting the Hudson River with Lake Erie. Open daily, May-October, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum has no admission charge.
73 Richmond Ave.
Tour through a large 2,430 foot water-power tunnel which was blasted out of solid rock over 1-1/2 years in 1858-1859. It was the invention of Birdsill Holly, who also developed the district steam heating system, the Sybills steam fire engine and the first municipal system os fire-fighting, the rotary pump and the method to pump water to homes through a tap. You can take an Underground Boat tour at the cave, a 30 minute guided tour in an underground boat. Light jackets are recommended as the cave temperature is a constant 55 degrees year round. Daily tours are scheduled at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m. Cave tours take 55 minutes (not including the optional 30 minute boat ride).
Niagara County Historical Society
215 Niagara St
Niagara County historical displays include a Junior R (a locally produced aluminum automobile), pioneer and Indian artifacts, farm equipment, and a Fitz-Gerald Medical exhibit. Genealogical researchers are welcome. Reprints of the 1860 maps of Niagara County and of towns and villages in the county are for sale. Open 1-5 p.m. on Thursdays to Sundays, and by appointment. Donations are accepted.
Town of Cambria Historical Society
4159 Lower Mountain Rd