When built in 1907 the 5 locks that comprise the Waterford Flight of Locks raised watercraft 165 feet in just over a mile. This is the greatest lift in the shortest distance on any canal system in the world. It still is today. These five locks are necessary to navigate around the Cohoes Falls. Both of these features are “must see” sights on the Mohawk Towpath Byway. Lock 2 in Waterford harbor has to be the most visited lock on the Erie Canal, but lock 4 provides the most scenic perspectives of open spaces including both sides of the Hudson River Valley where the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers wed.
The American Society Of Civil Engineers has named the flight of locks as a significant historic civil engineering landmark. “Because of their innovative design and protective gates, the Waterford Flight remained undamaged by the recent high-water incidents associated with Hurricane Irene,” reported Brian U. Stratton, executive director of the N Y S Canal Corporation. The canal between Waterford and Frankfort was closed during Hurricane Irene in 2011 and remained closed until a complete a full assessment could be completed.
The Erie Canal opened the following year and has remained open during subsequent navigational seasons.
For those truly interested in the canal system as an engineering feat, visiting the flight of locks during the winter can be a memorable experience. At this time of the year (winter) the locks and the pools between are completely drained so that the lock structures can be viewed from the bed of the cannel to the top of the locks. Extreme caution is advised because of slippery conditions with ice and snow around around the structures. The best perspective is from the Flight of Locks Road between Fonda Road and the large parking lot west of lock 6.
Another winter photograph coming… 2017 or early 2018.