Restoration of Historic Erie Canal Locks to Begin

October 9, 2013 Updated Oct 9, 2013 at 6:21 PM EDT

By Ed Reilly

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October 9, 2013 Updated Oct 9, 2013 at 6:21 PM EDT

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WKBW) During a kick-off ceremony that included a ride on a tugboat named the "Dewitt Clinton," Lockport Mayor Michael Tucker, along with State and local officials, announced the start of a $1.7 million dollar construction project to restore the "Flight of Five" locks.

Built in 1864, the locks were part of the original Erie Canal system that allowed boats to travel from New York City, up over the escarpment, to the Great Lakes.

Over the past 100 years, the "Flight of Five" have fallen into disrepair.

The project has been 10 years in the works and tourism officials are hoping that when Phase One is completed in 12 months time that it will be a major draw for visitors and development in Lockport's Heritage District.

The New York State Canal Corporation awarded the $1.7 million dollar contract to Hohl Industries in Tonawanda for the restoration work.

Phase One will include masonry repairs, new lights, installation of arched bridges, and restoration of historic railings.

The centerpiece of the work will be the installation of authentic working wooden gates to locks 69 and 70.

Operated manually, the two locks will look and function like the did in the 1860's.

Mayor Michael Tucker said that overall the complete project will cost around $10 million dollars and he is hoping that the completion of Phase One will make it easier to get the rest of the money to completely restore each lock in the "Flight of Five."