Baldwinsville

Baldwinsville Facts

Lock E24 on the Erie Canal is in the the middle of town.
Location: Erie Canal
Website: Baldwinsville.org
NYS guide: Page E-33
Town east: Brewerton (22 miles)
Town west: Jordan (12 miles)
Town north: Phoenix (12 miles)
Town south: Syracuse
Lock east: Lock E23 (19 miles)
Lock west: Lock E25 (30 miles)
Lock south: Lock CS1 (12 miles)

Baldwinsville is a large village located west of the Three Rivers Junction of the Erie Canal and the Oswego Canal. One of the main attractions of Baldwinsville is the central location of the community wall to its numerous events, parks, restaurants, small shops and stores. Located on the high side approach wall of Lock E24, one can enjoy concerts and other performances right from your boat. Each year there are numerous annual events, including September's Celebrate Baldwinsville, a festival celebrating the village and region. Also the the Rotary Club organizes July's Seneca River Days festival featuring the ever popular an anything that floats race. This event, in which homemade "boats" are constructed out of unusual and cheap materials and then raced. Typically more than a fare share sink or have great difficulty remaining afloat, but its all part of the fun.

As mentioned before, many functions are held at the Anheuser-Busch amphitheater on Paper Mill Island, which is directly located across the canal from the terminal wall. When there are not events happening, it makes a scenic spot to relax. While near the amphitheater, take a minute to walk to the north side near the dam. The dam was originally constructed during the Enlarged Erie Canal Era, and still stands today using its original stones. The dam was built in 1894 of stone. During the Barge Canal Enlargement a 15" cement cap what put on the dam to raise the water even further to the required level.

Around town there are a variety of restaurants, bars, stores, and other conveniences.

Contents

Amenities

now with power and water available for a fee. 20/30/50 amp available. 50 Amp is not on all posts, so check that your post has it if you need it. Fees for power are $5 per day for 20/30 amp service, and $10 per day for 50 amp service. A "day" runs from noon to noon.
  • Small park
  • Walking Trail
  • Restrooms
  • Numerous entertainment throughout the summer

Baldwin Canal (Baldwinsville Canal)

The Western Inland Lock Navigation Company, which built the Little Falls Canal and Rome Canal among other improvements, intended to connect the Mohawk River to Seneca Lake. Unfortunately the company struggled and never started work west of Oneida Lake. The Seneca River provided a natural river connect the two regions, but there were falls along the way; one falls was at what is now Baldwinsville.

Construction

The Baldwin Canal (later known as the Baldwinsville Canal), named after its owner and financier Dr. Jonas C. Baldwin, started construction in 1808 of a canal that was 0.6 miles in length and consisted of one wooden lock. Construction was completed within a year and the canal opened in 1809 and provided passage for loaded boats up as a far as Jacks Reef. The canals dimensions were as follows: 40 feet wide at the surface, with a bottom width of 24 feet and allowed two feet draft.

The Baldwinsville Canal can be seen running just north of the river through Baldwinsville.
The Baldwinsville Canal can be seen running just north of the river through Baldwinsville.

In 1809 Baldwin petitioned the state approval for building a dam across the river and charging tolls along the canal. The legislature approved the request, and required of him a dam seven and a half feet high, at McHarry’s reef (located by the falls), for improving navigation in the river above, provided that he erected and maintained "a canal and lock for the passage of the largest boats usually employed in said river from above said dam, to the still water, two feet deep, below the same, said canal and lock to be at least twelve feet wide, and said lock to be at least seventy-seven and a half feet long within the gates, and with a sufficient depth of water to pass boats, drawing two feet water, when loaded." He was given these rights for 20 years (until 1829).

Troubles began with the wooden locks and dam in 1817 because of a leaking dam. There was insufficient water to properly feed the canal during times of drought and boats were required to be emptied to pass through the canal, partially defeating the purpose of the canal. Shortly there after (1819) Dr. Baldwin passed the canal onto his sons Stephen W. Baldwin and Harvey Baldwin. The Baldwins continued to maintain the canal and were grated the privilege to continue operation until 1850 by the state. During 1831 the canal locks were enlarged to that of the Erie Canal, and a guard lock was built adjacent to the dam. The lower lift lock (90 feet by 15 feet wide) raised boats 10 feet and was located at the eastern end of the channel.

In 1839 a tow path was completed along the Seneca River that would connect the Baldwin Canal with the Oswego Canal and thus the Erie Canal. The path was was 5.36 miles long, beginning at Mud lock, which is located in present day Long Branch Park, and crossing and following to the north side of the river. The Baldwins were denied the right to continue operations past 1850, due to public interests and New York had spent money creating a tow path to it form the east, and planned on improvements to the west. They were payed compensation and the state took over operations.

State operations

Completed in 1853, the lift lock was rebuilt of wood, and lowered slightly to allow four feet of draft even in times of drought. Unfortunately the wooden structure is not designed to last like stone and in in 1863 a new lock built of stone was constructed nearby. Also the old wooden guard lock was in desperate need of repair, and it was rebuilt in 1866 as a guard gate made of stone.

The towing-path from Baldwinsville to Jack’s reef (west) was abandoned in 1888 on account of disuse. In 1891 the lift lock underwent through repairs, where the sides of the lock were taken down to the water-line, new approaches to the lock were built and four new gates inserted.

The stone dam in Baldwinsville is still in use 115+ years later!
The stone dam in Baldwinsville is still in use 115+ years later!

The wooden dam had lasted a long time and was finally replace in 1894 by the current stone dam seen today. The stone dam is 14 feet tall, 21 feet wide a the base and six feet wide at the top. This is the same dam seen today in the village, only with an addition of a 15" concrete cap that was necessary to raise the height of the water to that of the current Erie Canal. Not bad for a dam 115+ years old!

The canal today

The only known remains of the canal is the current dam which was built in 1894 and forms a base for the modern canal dam. The modern Erie Canal, which uses the Seneca River, bypassed all of Baldwin canal to the south. Unfortunately the raising of the headwaters of the dam required raising the height of the banks above the dam and any remains of the guard lock are surely underground the parking lot adjacent to the hydroelectric station or worse were destroyed in the construction of the power station or Barge Canal. Maps suggest that the guard gate was located nearly exactly in the middle of the parking lot north of the power station. Canal bed traces can also be seen throughout the town, although it has been filled in.

From the parking lot adjacent to the power station, the canal ran under the bridge along Route 48 / Oswego Street with the pedestrian walkway underneath, hence why there is a bridge in town. From here is continued on a slight norther arch to Lock Street. The Canal Bed is clearly seen along lock street as the large open area on the south side of the road, under the stone dust trail running down the center of the bed past the highway department building.

If you have any information, pictures or maps on the Baldwinsville Canal, please email me at mail@nycanals.com.

Baldwinsville Photos

The sign at Lock E24.
The sign at Lock E24.  
A sign welcoming boaters approaching from the west.
A sign welcoming boaters approaching from the west.  
A vessel going up the Lock.
A vessel going up the Lock.  
The wall adjacent to the upper side of the Lock.
The wall adjacent to the upper side of the Lock.  
The western side of the lock, notice the guard gate above.
The western side of the lock, notice the guard gate above.  
The Red Mill Inn adjacent to the lock.
The Red Mill Inn adjacent to the lock.  
The power generation house at the Baldwinsville Dam.
The power generation house at the Baldwinsville Dam.  
The southern end of the stone dam in Baldwinsville.
The southern end of the stone dam in Baldwinsville.  
Approaching Lock E24 from the east.
Approaching Lock E24 from the east.  
The view east from inside Lock E24.
The view east from inside Lock E24.  

Nearby Marinas

  • Cooper's Marina Inc 2302 W Genesee Rd, Baldwinsville, NY 13027, (315) 635-7371
  • Cross Lake Marina and Inn, Jordan Rd, Cato, NY 13033, (315) 626-6718
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