Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

May 1, 2013

'World class' destination building in progress

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Construction work at the Flight of Five canal locks area will begin in July.

Design of a full size wooden Erie Canal packet boat, circa 1865, to be used for demonstration purposes at the restored locks, is being attempted from scant historical records — and anyone who has literature referencing boat building from the period or, even better, photos, is invited to share with the designers at Buffalo Maritime Center.

Design of a Canal Street “gateway” or front door to the Lockport Locks Heritage District remains in progress. The volunteers who’ve been vetting sketches to date are finding it difficult to pick one that tells the story of the Lock City’s rise accurately, engagingly and in a visually appealing way that’s the opposite of “Disney-fied.”

These are the updates provided to the public in the latest Flight of Five Forum, held Tuesday at the History Center of Niagara County by the volunteers who’ve been managing the raising of a tourist-ready canal district in the city.

Flight of Five locks restoration, to their functionality and appearance in the mid 19th century, is the centerpiece of the volunteers’ efforts.

After 10 years of plotting, pushing for funding and signoffs from the government entities that have a say in the work, Locks Heritage District Committee Chairman David Kinyon seemed proud to report, “this year we are in a totally different mode ... we are mobilizing” to start the restoration, with a pilot project involving two of the five locks.

Creation of a “world-class tourist destination” remains the committee’s goal, restoration Program Manager Peter Welsby said. Despite the financial and bureaucratic challenges, “we have not wavered.”

Welsby took forum attendees through the restoration program briefly. Locks 69 and 70, which are the middle and second-from-top locks in the more-than-150-year-old Flight of Five series, will be made functional again, that is, capable of raising and lowering watercraft through the canal, after a century of being used as a spillway for the parallel, modern locks E34 and E35.

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