Five more sculptures were installed to the Lock Tenders Tribute Monument on Friday, including that of the photographer, F.B. Clench, who took the now iconic 1897 photograph that is now being recreated by Susan Geissler, a Youngstown sculptor, with the support of the Lockport Locks Heritage District Corp., a non-profit that operates the Erie Canal Flight of Five Locks and the Flight of Five Lock Tenders Tour.
Local visitors to the locks seemed impressed by the additions.
Don and Brenda Thrift are celebrating their 40th anniversary, traveling all the way from Maryland to see Niagara Falls, as well as the local sights of Niagara County.
“My first impression is that the statues look very realistic. The faces,” Brenda said. “I was interested in the hand position and the arm positions of the men.”
“I think it’s neat,” Don added. “I think it’s great, I was surprised. I thought it was all people, sitting there.”
Ken Martin is originally from the area, but left it to live in Pennsylvania in 1981. He said he was up for his niece’s baby shower and had a few hours to admire the Locks while his wife helped with the preparations for their relative.
“I thought it was nice that they also mentioned the photographer,” he said, sporting his own camera. “There’s a little bit of the history about the photographer there, too.”
Tiffany and Pam Marsh are locals from the Town of Niagara, on their way back to Marsh’s Store, after picking up an order from their wholesaler in Lockport. Tiffany said she loves to look at the Locks, and thought the statues very well made as they had fooled Pam into thinking there was a movie shoot.
“I think it creates the moment, rather than just a tribute to the lock keepers, it shows everything,” Tiffany said. “But, the Locks! It’s just like Niagara Falls, right? Every time you’re up here, you just have to look at them. We’re coming up with some friends in a month, and we’re going to actually do a stay-cation and do the Canal Cruise, and it will be the first time for any of us getting on the Canal.”
Six more lock tenders are expected to be installed next year.
The lead sponsor of the monument is Niagara County which allocated the funding for tribute from the Niagara River Greenway Commission. New York State Canal Corp. also invested $125,000 in 2018 Consolidated Funding through Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Councils, and the NYS Department of State gave $275,000 in Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding.
A formal dedication of the Lock Tender figures will take place Saturday, July 3 at 10 a.m. in the Lockport Locks.