Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

January 23, 2013

New base eyed for Cave tours

Staff reports
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Hydraulic Race Corp. is moving to secure a permanent operating base for the Lockport Cave & Underground Boat Ride.

The company secured eight variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday, so that it can build a ticket sales office at 5 Gooding St., vacant land north of the Pine Street bridge that overlooks the Flight of Five canal locks area.

Plans call for construction of a 24-foot-by-32-foot “visitors center,” where tickets for cave tours, and Lockport souvenirs, will be sold. An attached pavilion and an observation deck off the back of the visitors center also are in the plans, which still have to be approved by the city planning board.

With construction of the visitors center, ideally by May 1, Lockport Cave will have a permanent operating base for the first time. It was based in rented quarters at Old City Hall, 2 Pine St., for the past 12 years. 

“We think it’s time we became part of the tourism industry in Lockport,” co-owner Thomas Callahan said.

Hydraulic Race Corp. had put in an offer for 79 Canal Street — one of the newly refurbished buildings on the block — but later withdrew that offer. 

Also for the first time, the Lockport Cave ticket office will double as a showplace for items from Callahan’s collection of Birdsill Holly works. Holly was an engineer and inventor whose Holly Manufacturing Co. was powered by the movement of canal water through the hydraulic raceway that’s now known as the Lockport Cave.