In 1816, the New York State Legislature passed a bill that provided more financial support for the Erie Canal's construction and appointed Stephen Van Rensselaer, DeWitt Clinton, Joseph Ellicott, Myron Holley, and Samuel Young as Commissioners to Construct a Canal from the Hudson the Lake Erie and Lake Champlain. As a result of this bill, it was evident that the Erie Canal would be built through the Historic Niagara County town of Lockport, NY. The first settlers to the town were Quakers, Christians who use no scripture and believe in simplicity in life and worship. Quakers were some of the earliest religious organizations in the colonies to practice religious toleration.
Erie Canal construction began in 1817 and drew 2,000-3,000 settlers to Lockport. The Legislature offered minimal wages to workers, but provided food and keep, often whiskey, dried meats, and materials to build homes. Many of the canal settlers were Irish, originally from New York City.
On October 26th, 1825, Governor Dewitt Clinton successfully traveled through the twin locks in Lockport, carrying a barrel of water from Lake Erie that he would later ceremoniously pour into the Atlantic at New York City's harbor in commemoration of the opening of the canal.
The city of Lockport continues to harbor historical significance. In 1860, the first ever northern Civil War regimen was organized in Lockport after a saloon owner learned of President Lincoln's call for volunteers.
Lockport's "Flight of Five" Locks are still the last set of locks from the original canal built in 1817.
Come join the Albany Symphony, in celebration of the Erie Canal's Bicentennial, on July 8 at the Historic "Flight of Five" Locks, featuring resident composer David Mallamud and his new work, Spitoonia on the Erie.