Status quo for the Erie Canal

Nelson Goehle Marina is seen in the distance. The Erie Canal will remain the Erie Canal after a state proposal to rename the waterway and the adjacent Empire State Trail as "The Empire Line" was nixed. (James Neiss/staff photographer) 

The historic “Flight of Five” locks downtown will be among the topics discussed next month by two of Lockport's finest at the annual Winter Symposium of the Canal Society of New York State.

Besides Brian Stratton, state Canal Corporation director, this year's list of event speakers includes Dave Kinyon, chairman of the Lockport Locks Heritage District, along with his high school friend, author and retired professor of history Dr. Patrick McGreevey.

Kinyon and Dr. McGreevey will give a joint, hour-long presentation on, “Mountain Ridge and The Flight of Five Locks.”

The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 6. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's symposium will be virtual only. The cost to view it is $25. Organizers said registered attendees will be sent a symposium link in a separate email, prior to the event. 

The event program and instructions to register can be found at newyorkcanals.org/events.

In his book, “Stairway to Empire: Lockport, the Erie Canal, and the Shaping of America,” released 10 years ago, Dr. McGreevey talks about Lockport's roots, birth and early development, as well as many other aspects of the Erie Canal.

The “stairway” he refers to in the title refers to Lockport's original twin series of five locks that rose and lowered boats up and down the Niagara Escarpment.

Lockport was of great interest even before the canal was finished, because of its location at the northern end of Mountain Ridge.

This section of the canal was the last to be built, and it was a difficult job, McGreevey said, lasting from 1821 to 1825.

Stratton is expected to give an update on the canal and the state's vision going forward.

Other speakers will include canal ambassador and retired English teacher Bob Stopper, as well as Nancy Uffindell, a trustee at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester.

The canal society is also expected to elect its officers for the new year as well as discuss the World Canals Conference C&O slated this August

This year's Winter Symposium will be presented virtually, via Zoom. Closed captioning will be available.

Registration will close on March 2.

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