Much local history is captured by citizens; sharing this information is vital so it is preserved long-term. In the town of Lockport, there are two local history establishments: The Historian's Office and the Town of Lockport Historical Society. The following is an introduction to them and an essay by Jim Boles highlighting how these resources can be utilized.
The historical society formed in 1988 around its first project, the restoration of the 1873 Pomeroy Schoolhouse. The society organizes regular meetings about history topics. If you are interested in learning more or becoming a member, check out its Facebook page which has further details: https://www.facebook.com/TownOfLockportHistoricalSociety/
The Town Historian’s Office is located in a circa 1843 stone schoolhouse known as the Chestnut Ridge School. There are extensive files, maps, books and other resources compiled by the town historians and historical society members over the years. The collections continue to grow; it is crucial to add primary source materials such as photographs.
Please consider donating photographs or documents relating to the town of Lockport. There is a scanner at the office, so if you do not wish to donate the original (especially understandable if it is a family memento) the materials could be scanned onsite and returned to you immediately. Current office hours for spring are Saturdays from 1 to 3 p.m. or by appointment. The address is 7142 Chestnut Ridge Road. To make an appointment or discuss a research inquiry, call the historian at 438-2159 or email email@example.com.
A common research inquiry is from homeowners wishing to learn more about their property. Recently, homeowners on Day Road contacted the office to find out more about their Dutch Colonial home, likely built by a reverend from First English Lutheran Church. As it turns out, the property also has an intriguing spring.
The following is an account by Jim Boles, a local history researcher who specializes in springs.
Hot tip on a cold spring
I am a card-carrying member of the Town of Lockport Historical society. What I like about this group is the town historian, Jean Linn, will reach out to members to help investigate an inquiry she has had at the office. In this case, it was an area of my interest. Ms. Linn sent me an email mentioning a spring on Day Road. I had knowledge of two springs on Day Road, one at the Day Road Park, the other on the escarpment going north down the hill, just off Chestnut Ridge Road. I had no history of these springs other than a few quick stories; no facts, no good information.
The owners of the Day Road property were looking for information about their house and a spring that runs through their backyard. The deed stated water rights from the upper and lower level springs were included in several sales of the property and the water was to be shared with a nearby house. Photographs of the spring showed that it was highly developed at one time, with a large cut stone and mortar holding basin and a unique cast iron valve. This spring water had been important to a past owner, what did they use the spring for?
Day Road is near Lockport Town & Country Club’s holdings east of Cold Springs Road. Just this fall, country club representative Clint Starke and I explored this area, looking for springs. We found many on and below the escarpment. That area is loaded with springs, many which flow into ponds. I want to thank the country club and Clint Starke for showing me their property.
Recently, Ms. Linn and I met with the homeowners on a clear winter day; the vegetation was down and it was easy to spot features. First, I wanted to examine the spring and determine why it was constructed and how it was used. A lot of work had gone into building the 8-by-10 stone enclosure and mechanical valve that connected to a large pipe that drained the water collecting in the basin. A close look at the iron valve showed that it had been designed to have a sliding plate to close off the water and force it into a raised pipe; the plate and raised pipe were still there. A large amount of water flowed through the valve — this was a very healthy spring. Could the raised pipe have been used to bring spring water into the house before a town water line was installed?
As I stood in their driveway, I saw a nearby spring across the road on the escarpment, a clear stream that ran down the hill. It was easy to spot, a dark line in the snow. The homeowner and I walked up the hill and followed the stream, which ran under the road and eventually into their stone basin. Also spotted was a spring house and another nearby spring.
The water temperature at the stone basin was 42 degrees, while the outdoor temperature was 31 degrees. In the future, I will test the temperature at the spring head.
Town Historian Linn and I will be working with the homeowners to help uncover the history of their house and property. Readers with any information about Day Road springs are encouraged to contact Jean Linn or myself at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jean Linn is Lockport's town historian, as well as archivist and librarian at Niagara County Community College. James Boles is a Lockport native and historian with a keen interest in local history and cultural tourism.