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Erie Canal Locks and Towpath at Lockport, 1895

Erie Canal. Lockport Locks and Towpath
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_A7331
 
Document Description
Erie Canal locks and towpath, Lockport, New York, 1895.
 
Questions
What form of transportation is in the photograph?  
What are the parts or features of the locks? 
What conclusions can be made about the importance of the five-step lock design to the success of the Erie Canal?
 
Historical Challenges
Compare today’s lock to the five-step lock.
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science: Create a diagram displaying the lock mechanism and how it works.
English Language Arts: Write a first-hand account of being a passenger on a canal boat while progressing through the five-step locks.
 
Resources
Lane, Bruce. Along the Erie Canal. Rochester, NY: Ethnoscope, 1997.
Hurst, Carol Otis. Through the Lock. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001. ISBN: 0618030360.
Stein, R. Conrad. The Erie Canal. New York: Children's Press, 2004. ISBN: 0516242431.
Weingardt, Richard. Engineering Legends: Great American Civil Engineers. Reston, VA: American Society of Civil Engineers, 2005. ISBN: 0784408017.
Chatham Hill Press. Erie Canal Cut and Fold Game.
 

Historical Context
A lock is a water-filled chamber with huge gates or doors at both ends.  Locks were usually built in a series up the sides of a hill or mountain. The construction of the original five-step locks in Lockport presented a major engineering challenge.  The canal had to rise up a cliff of solid rock that was sixty-six feet high.  The locks were blasted out of the cliff by the canal workers.  The double set of five combined locks was the design of Nathan S. Roberts.  One set of locks was for ascending traffic that was headed west, and the other set was for descending traffic heading east.  The town that grew up around this set of locks became known as Lockport.
 
Essential Question
How does geography impact technology?
 
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain how geography contributed to the development of this technology.