Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

December 28, 2013

NIAGARA DISCOVERIES: Hitching posts once dominated the landscape

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — They were a common sight less than 100 years ago, stone or metal posts with an iron ring attached to them. Sometimes they were near a stone block. Some were very plain, other were very ornate. They stood outside private homes and businesses, store and taverns. Hundreds of them dotted the landscape of the city — and now there are only a very few left to remind us of a time when horses ruled the road.

They are hitching posts, along with an occasional mounting stone, that have survived the test of time. 

There are currently about dozen known hitching posts that are still extant in the city of Lockport. There may be more that we don’t know about. 

In doing the research on those that still exist, it was interesting to discover that the homes they are in front of belonged to the famous and the not so famous. Here is a listing of locations where hitching posts still exist.

• 325 Summit St. – The Hitchins House is at the corner of Summit and State Road. The stone house was built in 1834 by Francis Hitchins, a canal contractor and part owner of the Lockport Glass Works. The post is made of stone with the iron ring still in place.

• 129 Outwater Drive – The Thomas Watson House is a National Register property built in 1854. Thomas Watson had a stone quarry directly behind his house on the Niagara Escarpment. Not only is there a hitching post, there is also a mounting stone.

• 284 N. Adam St. – The Joel McCollum House was part of a large farm and orchard in the mid 19th century. The stone house is still in the McCollum family. The hitching post is broken is now, just a stub in the grass.

• 178 Locust St. – The Orrin Prudden House was built circa 1890 for the owner of a furniture and undertaking business on Main Street. The hitching post is curved brass, painted black with a ball at the top.

• 228 Gooding St. – The W.W. Whitmore House is a gothic style Medina sandstone house. Whitmore also had a stone quarry near his property. This hitching post still includes its iron ring at the top.

• 109 Chestnut St. – The David E. Snyder House was owned by a dealer of stone and marble. You might think his hitching post would be a bit fancier but it is a plain stone piece. Part of the metal work at the top is still intact.

• 126 Chestnut St. – This house was owned by several different people over the course of time, including a railroad agent and a widow. The hitching post is one of the more ornate in the city. It has a flower motif carved in the stone on the front of the post.

• 25 Price St. – This house is unique in the fact that there are two metal hitching posts out in front. Both are painted green. The house at various times was owned by a blacksmith and later a machinist.

• 133 Lock St. – The George Green House not only has two stone hitching posts, it also has an original mounting stone. This stone house was owned by an attorney in the 19th century.

• 270 Grand St. – The Patrick Powers House was home to a family of giants. Mr. Powers stood 6-feet-8-inches tall and his daughter Mary Ellen was the tallest women in the world at the turn of the 20th century (7 feet tall). The hitching post is a plain stone one with the iron ring still at the top.

• 177 Ontario St. – The Frederick Walter House was owned by a custom shoe and boot maker for over 30 years. This brick house has a stone hitching post. The iron ring on the top is missing.

• 219 Hawley St. – This house was built circa 1894 by Philip Smith, a patternmaker. The hitching post is actually on Ontario Street across from number 171 Ontario. It is stone and is missing its iron ring.

• 453 Market St. – The Gilbert Peterson House was built in 1863. Gilbert Peterson was a canal engineer and later was mayor of Lockport. The house is made of stone. The hitching post is missing its iron ring and the house number is now painted on the post.

Looking at the houses, about half of them are stone, one is brick and the rest are frame dwellings. Three were owned by men who sold stone. Most, but not all, were owned by men who owned businesses or were prominent in one way or another. The questions to ask are how many hitching posts were in the city of Lockport 100 years ago? How many have been lost and how many are still standing?

If you know of a hitching post in the city (or anywhere in Niagara County) not included in this list, please contact the Historical Society at 434-7433 or at history11@verizon.net.

Ann Marie Linnabery is the assistant director of the History Center of Niagara.