Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

January 11, 2014

NIAGARA DISCOVERIES: 'Lock City' owes its identity to geology

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Almost 200 years ago, after the War of 1812 had finally ended, the New York State government began to seriously consider the idea of building a canal across the state. Surveyors were sent out to the wilderness areas of upstate to find the best possible route for it. 

With a few exceptions, such as Little Falls, the land on which the canal was eventually built was relatively flat. A gradual rise in the land between Albany and Rochester resulted in the need for a series of 70 some locks along the waterway. West of Rochester, the Niagara Escarpment loomed 60 feet high in the canal’s path to Buffalo. Somewhere in this part of the state the canal had to surmount the escarpment, but where would be the best place? 

When the canal surveyors reached Orleans and Niagara counties they found several areas where a natural ravine had cut through the escarpment. Located in Holley, Medina, Royalton and soon-to-be-named Lockport, these natural gorges would facilitate the building of the locks since not as much stone would have to be excavated. After studying these natural outlets, it was decided that the best place was located at what would become Lockport. The only problem left was to decide which of the two channels to use. 

Let’s go back 18,000 years to when a mile-high glacier began to recede from Western New York and created glacial Lake Tonawanda above the escarpment and Lake Iroquois (the predecessor of Lake Ontario) below the escarpment. A great waterfall, similar in volume to that of Niagara, crashed over the escarpment at present-day Outwater Park, cascaded down through what would become Glenwood Cemetery and tumbled over Rattlesnake Hill. The force of the water washed away the sand ridge shoreline of Lake Iroquois, creating a bay that spanned from Warren’s to Wright’s Corners. 

Text Only
Columns
Featured Ads
Photos


Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Front page
AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
Seasonal Content
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
Seasonal Content
Helium debate
Helium
Section Teases

Seasonal Content
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.