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SUBMITTED by John R. Groves, Erie's Restoration Interests Everyone, Inc. (31-Oct-2008)

The Village of Newark has in its grasp a wonderful and unique treasure of history and heritage within the village limits. During the very beginning of the Erie Canal Era (1825 canal “Clinton’s Ditch) to the Enlarged Erie Canal (1840 to about 1917) Lockville has played an important role in Erie Canal operations.

Lockville? Where is this place? Lockville was the popular name given to a series of locks located on the eastern border of Newark. Locks 57, 58, 59, raised westbound canal boats about 20 feet into the Village of Newark. In 1905, the State of New York approved a new modern canal, called the New York State Barge Canal, bypassing previous locks of the earlier canals.

Today, through the efforts of Roger Straub and his troop of Boy Scouts, the path of these locks is now being cleared. As of yesterday, this effort has exposed the entire corridor of Lockville, to the bank of the current canal, about ¼ of a mile.

Two locks can be seen, Lock 59 (Located just east of Clinton Street) and Lock 58, a few hundred yards east. Lock 57, cannot be seen as it was in the path of the current canal, thus under 12 feet of water.

Lock 59 in Lockville


Inside Lock 58 in Lockville

In 1825, the Erie Canal was officially opened on October 25th. On that morning an entourage of boats, led by the Seneca Chief, traveled east, celebrating the opening of the 8th Wonder of the World (as the Erie Canal was frequently referred to at that time). During our tour of this Lockville area we endeavored to locate a Clinton’s ditch lock (I’m not sure of the number, but it was in the middle 60’s), which in all probability is beneath a parking lot. In Mark DeCracker’s image “Clinton’s Ditch Lock” our group stands directly above this site (or very nearby as precise measurements are yet to be made).

Clinton's Ditch Lock

DeWitt Clinton, leaving Buffalo, and traveling east, may have in four days reached this very lock , but 183 years sooner... Had we been there at that time we could have seen Dewitt Clinton and been close enough to him to converse in a normal tone of voice. The first Erie Canal was a mere 40 feet wide and the locks were 90.0’ long and 12.0’ wide. This compact space would have created a very intimate encounter, with Clinton and his guests.

Newark is on the brink of developing a significant interpretive park where visitors can experience within a small space all eras of our beloved canal. Wayne County has the greatest concentration of existing historic canal infrastructure in the Western canal region. What a blessing and of course, what a responsibility to work towards their identification and preservation!

Today, in many ways this small group experienced first hand important canal history. As for me, I was literally moved several times, realizing how close I was to places visited by our courageous Erie Canal pioneers!

Roger Straub and his crew have seen the value of their labors, uncovering for our people these locks. What we have here will never be preserved without the selfless devotion of volunteers ready and willing to make a difference in their communities.

I encourage anyone, at any time to visit this emerging site at Lockville. When you approach that parking lot, where the Clinton’s Ditch lock resides, pause for a moment. Try to imagine the excitement and thrill that must have been enjoyed there when Dewitt Clinton passed through. Picture in your mind what that would have been like for you. Think of what you may has said to DeWitt as he passed by, or even the real possibility that your could have reached out and shook his hand!

Preservation of our heritage gives us all that privilege of personal experience felt visiting these and other canal sites. Let’s support Roger and all volunteers who are stepping out to bring back to Wayne County its life and prosperity through historic preservation.

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2 Comments to "Where is Lockville?"

  1. Anonymous Said,

    Very good article - I would like to travel these locks - I remember seeing one of them for years when I was a kid and we would rush to the barge canal lock to see the big barges come through. That was a favorite of the North end kids to do.

    Posted on Wed May 13, 05:46:00 PM EDT

     
  2. Ruth Rosenberg-Naparsteck Said,

    This is a very good review of what Roger and his friends and fellow volunteers are accomplishing for all of us. The article reads so fast-- I hope everyone will take the time to recognize and appreciate their work by visiting the site, remembering or past and taking our students anc children there.
    Ruth Rosenberg-Naparsteck
    Herons Bend Productions

    Posted on Sun Jun 21, 10:49:00 AM EDT

     

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