Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Hydraulic Race Co. launched its 19th season of Lockport Cave & Underground Boat Ride tours Saturday at its new home base, 5 Gooding St.
Visitors purchased their passes at the still-under-construction Lockport Cave ticket office which, even in its incomplete condition, invites them to dwell awhile.
From a back deck overlooking the Erie Canal at the base of the Flight of Five locks, spectators can see what’s “behind” Main Street, including the city-owned Electric Building, which dates back to the 1830s and, according to Hydraulic Race co-owner Thomas Callahan, is the oldest structure remaining from the canal building era. To the west there’s a different view of Old City Hall, a stone building that appears to rise out of the escarpment.
Lockport Cave tours are guided walking tours of the Lockport locks and the hydraulic raceway north of them that Birdsill Holly, developer of central systems for home heating, water service and fire suppression, used to power his local factories in the mid- to late 1800s.
The first weekend in May is the earliest that Hydraulic Race Co. has ever kicked off its tour season, Callahan said. In 1995, its first year in business, the season was 90 days. Today it’s seven-plus months, from May through mid-November.
Three new tours are being introduced in June: a Ghost Hunters’ Experience, a Lantern Lit (nighttime) cave tour and an occasional Flight of Five-centered cave tour.
Hydraulic Race has acquired a Holly Manufacturing-made bell, date-stamped 1879 and likely made for a school or fire house, that will be set up on top of the finished ticket office. Its ringing will signal to ticket holders that the next walking tour is about to start, Callahan said.
As was reported by Lockport Sunday in mid-February, 11 local businesses and not-for-profit organizations are investing $25 million in capital improvements, expansion or shop openings downtown in 2013-2014. The lion’s share of investment is in industrial or tourism-related development. Here are brief updates on the status of those projects.