Erie Canal Locks

Erie Canal HomeBoatingPhotos Locks E2-E10 Locks E11-E20Locks E21-E35Guard Gates

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There are 34 locks on the Erie Canal that separate the Hudson River at Waterford with the Niagara River near Buffalo. Each locks is very similar to the others, each with with chamber dimensions capable of raising and lowering boats up to 300 feet long, 43.5 feet wide and have a 12' Draft. The maximum height above the waterline is 21.5 feet east of Three Rivers (Oswego Canal junction) and 15.5 feet to the west. These dimensions allow most recreational cruisers to travel the Erie Canal.

The locks along the Erie Canal are all very similar and operated by electricity. The locks service barges, cruise ships and recreational boaters alike. At each lock there are both large capstans for pulling barges and smaller dropped lined for the recreational cruiser. Waiting times are typically very short for entering a lock and locking through usually takes approximately 15-20 minutes depending on the size of lock.

All the NYS Canal Corporation locks are open to the general public for visiting, some also include picnic tables, grills, viewing platforms, and other park-like amenities. Visitor's can watch the boats lock through, fish, picnic and some locks offer even more. Boats are welcome to tie up for the night at many locks free of charge. Check with the lock master for approval as some approach walls are not large enough to allow docking and provide access for larger boats and barges to enter the lock safely.

There are two other locks on the Erie Canal Route that are not technically part of the Erie Canal, the Troy Federal Lock on the Hudson River and the Black Rock Lock on the Niagara River near Buffalo. These locks are located at both ends of the canal and operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. These locks are located in federal waters, and thus when the canal was constructed in the early 1900s, New Yorkers asked the federal government to build these two locks (and dredge both areas as well). For this reason, the Erie Canal actually starts with Lock 2 and not Lock 1. During design and construction the federal lock was numbered lock 1, and the locks have not been renumbered to date.

For locks E11 to E20 see Erie Canal Locks (E11 to E20).

For locks E21 to E35 see Erie Canal Locks (E21 to E35).

Lock E2

Lock 2

Three tugboats atop Lock E2.
Phone Number: (518) 237-0810
Lock north: Lock C1 (3 miles)
How to Lock Through

Erie Canal Lock 2 is in village of Waterford, three miles north of the Troy Federal Lock. Passing through this lock marks the entry into the official Erie Canal from the Hudson River. Note that there is not a Lock E1. This also is the first lock in the Waterford Flight of Locks. The Waterford Flight of Locks consists of Locks E-2 through Lock E6. The flight of locks - bypassing Cohoes Falls just to the south - constitutes the largest lift in the shortest distance on any canal system in the world: This set of 5 locks lifts vessels 169 feet in about a half mile!

In the aerial photo shown, the 4th Street Bridge (Bridge #2), is to the left of the lock in the photo. Also in the photo, below the lock is the remains of the Waterford Side Cut of locks to the former Old Champlain Canal. These former locks are now used as a spillway to maintain the level of water between Erie Canal Locks E2 and E3.

Lock 2 raises and lowers boats 33.55 feet (from 15.2 to 38.75 feet above sea-level). The lock master can be reached on VHF channel 13 or by phone at (518) 237-0810. He or she controls the passage of boats into the Flight of Locks. You must continue all the way though the Flight of Locks, there is no stopping between Lock 2 and 6. It is an addition .63 miles to Lock 3. For those traveling north on the Champlain Canal, it is 3 miles to Lock C1.

Construction

This lock was one of the first locks to be built on the modern Erie Barge Canal. It was let under contract number 2, along with Lock E3, the second contract of then estimated $101 million dollar canal. Construction of this lock had the challenge of being surrounded by operational canals. To the north is Waterford Cut, the three combined locks that allow boats to travel from the Champlain Canal to the Hudson River. To the west was the Champlain Canal, still in use. To the east is the convergence of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers. This meant that dams and pumps were necessary to keep water out while building.

The lock was excavated out of solid rock and the concrete work started on September 12, 1907.

Lock E3

Lock E3
Nearest Town: Waterford
Phone Number: (518) 237-0812
Lift: 34.6 feet
Upstream Elev.: 83.25 feet
Downstream Elev.: 48.75 feet
Lock east: Lock E2 (0.28 miles)
Lock west: Lock E4 (0.62 miles)
How to Lock Through


Erie Canal Lock 3 is in the village of Waterford. This is the second lock in the Waterford Flight of Locks. It is also the location of the eastern dry dock for the Canal Corporation. It is here where vessels are stored for the winter, repaired, and otherwise left to dock when not in use for long periods of time.

Construction

This lock was one of the first locks to be built on the modern Erie Barge Canal. It was let under contract number 2, the second contract of then estimated $101 million dollar canal. Because this lock was not located near any existing waterways or major development it made it very easy to begin construction. The lock was excavated out of solid rock and the concrete work started on June 22, 1907.

A line of boats entering Lock E3.
A line of boats entering Lock E3.  
Lower view of Lock E3.
Lower view of Lock E3.  
Canal Corp. boat yard.
Canal Corp. boat yard.  
Day Peckinpaugh moored at Lock E3 yard.
Day Peckinpaugh moored at Lock E3 yard.  
Excavation for the lock in 1907.
Excavation for the lock in 1907.  
View of foundation of the lock.  Notice how thick that floor is! (1907).
View of foundation of the lock. Notice how thick that floor is! (1907).  
Partially completed lock in 1907.
Partially completed lock in 1907.  
Workers waiting during construction of lock (1907).
Workers waiting during construction of lock (1907).  
View inside the chamber during construction (1907).
View inside the chamber during construction (1907).  
View from top of lock looking west during construction (1907).
View from top of lock looking west during construction (1907).  
View of partially completed lock from below (1907).
View of partially completed lock from below (1907).  
View of partially completed lock from the bank on the eastern side of lock (1907).
View of partially completed lock from the bank on the eastern side of lock (1907).  

Lock E4

Lock E4
Nearest Town: Waterford
Phone Number: (518) 237-0818
Lift: 34.5 feet
Upstream Elev.: 117.75 feet
Downstream Elev.: 83.25 feet
Lock east: Lock E3 (0.62 miles)
Lock west: Lock E5 (0.16 miles)
How to Lock Through

Erie Canal Lock 4 is in the village of Waterford, New York. This is the third of the five locks that make up the Waterford Flight of Locks.

Construction

This lock was let under contract number 11, along with Lock E5 and E6. Its location on a then dry hillside allowed speedy construction without the need for dams like found in many other locations. The lock was excavated in 1907 and concrete work started on August 26, 1907.

Lock E4 with Lock E5 in the background.  This is part of the Waterford Flight of Locks.
Lock E4 with Lock E5 in the background. This is part of the Waterford Flight of Locks.  

Lock E5

Lock E5
Nearest Town: Waterford
Phone Number: (518) 237-0821
Lift: 33.25 feet
Upstream Elev.: 151 feet
Downstream Elev.: 117.75 feet
Lock east: Lock E4 (0.16 miles)
Lock west: Lock E6 (0.28 miles)
How to Lock Through

Erie Canal Lock 5 is in the village of Waterford. This is the fourth lock in the Waterford Flight of Locks.

Lock E5 got new gates in Early April, 2006. On April 3rd, a Monday night, the gates were delivered by truck in a highly publicized 10:00 p.m. move from the steel fabricator shop in Schenectady to Waterford. Police had to close the roads to traffic as the special delivery came through. Each lock gate is 55 feet tall, 25 feet wide and 2 1/2 feet thick and weighs 55 tons. The following Wednesday morning the gates were installed.


Construction

This lock was let under contract number 11, along with Lock E4 and E6. Its location on a then dry hillside allowed speedy construction without the need for dams like found in many other locations. The lock was excavated in 1907 and concrete work started on July 2, 1907.


Lock E6

Lock E6
Nearest Town: Waterford
Phone Number: (518) 237-4014
Lift: 33 feet
Upstream Elev.: 184 feet
Downstream Elev.: 151 feet
Lock east: Lock E5 (0.28 miles)
Lock west: Lock E7 (10.83 miles)
How to Lock Through

Erie Canal Lock 6 is in the village of Waterford. This is the fifth and final lock that makes up the Waterford Flight of Locks.

Lock E6 is also home to a large picnic area. Here you can come and enjoy an afternoon picnic while watching boats pass by. There are bathrooms and an elevated watch tower to see the boats go by.

Geese at Lock E5, with Lock E6 in the background.
Geese at Lock E5, with Lock E6 in the background.  
View of Lock E6 from the upper side.
View of Lock E6 from the upper side.  

Lock E7

Lock E7
Nearest Town: Niskayuna
Phone Number: (518) 374-7912
Lift: 27 feet
Upstream Elev.: 211 feet
Downstream Elev.: 184 feet
NYS guide: Page E-65
Lock east: Lock E6 (10.83 miles)
Lock west: Lock E8 (10.83 miles)
How to Lock Through

Erie Canal Lock 7 is in the town of Niskayuna. There is a fixed dam at this point in the river which you can see to the right of the Lock. There is a hydroelectric power station on the far side of the river (North side) here. There is no bridge across the Canal here at lock E7.

The upper view of the lock.
The upper view of the lock.  
The river appears to just falls off at this very wide dam.
The river appears to just falls off at this very wide dam.  
A boat ramp is available on the high side of the lock.
A boat ramp is available on the high side of the lock.  

Lock E8

Lock E8
Location: Erie Canal
Nearest Town: Scotia
Phone Number: (518) 346-3382
Lift: 14 feet
Upstream Elev.: 225 feet
Downstream Elev.: 211 feet
NYS guide: Page E-63
Lock east: Lock E7 (11 miles)
Lock west: Lock E9 (5 miles)
How to Lock Through

Erie Canal Lock 8 is located just outside Scotia. The Canalway trail is adjacent to the lock and makes for a good stop to take a walk if you needing to stretch your legs.

The view of the upper side of the lock from the west.
The view of the upper side of the lock from the west.  
The view of the spillway from inside the lock.
The view of the spillway from inside the lock.  
The view of the lock and spillway from the east.
The view of the lock and spillway from the east.  
The view of the lower side of the lock from the west.
The view of the lower side of the lock from the west.  

Lock E9

Lock E9
Location: Erie Canal
Nearest Town: Rotterdam Junction
Phone Number: (518) 887-2401
Lift: 15 feet
Upstream Elev.: 240 feet
Downstream Elev.: 225 feet
NYS guide: Page E-62
Lock east: Lock E8 (4.82 miles)
Lock west: Lock E10 (6.16 miles)
How to Lock Through

Erie Canal Lock 9 is an interesting structure which is a combination lock, dam, and truss bridge which carries State Route 103 over the Mohawk River/Erie Canal. Route 103, the shortest State Route in New York, connects Route 5 and 5S. The bridge, E-16, known locally as the Lock 9 Bridge, connects Rotterdam Junction and the town of Glenville, about eight miles west of Schenectady. This historic structure was built in the early 1900s. Until recently the Route 103 bridge had an open grid steel deck. Extensive rehabilitation work to the bridge and dam completed in late 2000, (at a contract cost of $12.3 million) replaced the open steel deck with a 538 foot long cast-in-place exodermic concrete deck. The dam received new lower gates. The movable gates, which are lifted out of the water to provide free flow in winter, hold back water during the navigation season to provide a navigation pool for boats entering and exiting the upper end of the Erie Canal's Lock E9.

Concrete Barges

Another interesting thing about Lock E9 are the 5 concrete barges resting there. During the canal's navigation season the water level is up and the barges are completely submerged. When the canal is closed and the dams are open the water level is low enough to reveal these decaying barges. There are three concrete barges upstream (west) of the lock, and another two just below (east) the lock.

The barges were constructed during World War I by the United States government in the wartime effort. Some of these barges were built at the southern tip of Rogers Island in Fort Edward, along the Champlain Canal. After the war, New York State took control of the barges and used them for approach walls at Lock E9 (and Lock E13). Approach walls are where boats tie up while waiting to use the lock. There are a number of very large concrete blocks resting atop the concrete barges. Each huge block has a mooring bollard sticking out of the top. During the war years there were many vessels built from concrete. For more information visit concreteships.org

Construction

Construction of Lock 9 was let under contract number 8, which also included the building of Lock E10. Excavation work began on September 25, 1907.

View from the west of the lock.
View from the west of the lock.  
Barges on the upper side submerged.
Barges on the upper side submerged.  
View of the spillway from the inside of the lock.
View of the spillway from the inside of the lock.  
View towards the west from the inside of the lock; note the overhead bridge.
View towards the west from the inside of the lock; note the overhead bridge.  
Flags flying over the lock.
Flags flying over the lock.  
Lower side of the lock.
Lower side of the lock.  

Lock E10

Lock E10

View from the east of the lock.
Location: Erie Canal
Nearest Town: Cranesville
Phone Number: (518) 887-5450
Lift: 15 feet
Upstream Elev.: 255 feet
Downstream Elev.: 240 feet
NYS guide: Page E-60
Lock east: Lock E9 (6.16 miles)
Lock west: Lock E11 (4.05 miles)
How to Lock Through

Erie Canal Lock 10 is in the hamlet of Cranesville. Lock E10 is easily visible from the busy Route 5 which runs right by the lock between Amsterdam and Schenectady.

Construction

Construction of Lock 10 was let under contract number 8, which also included the building of Lock E9. Excavation work began on October 3, 1906. This work was carried on during the fall of 1906, but was discontinued for the winter. A small amount of embankment was done at the upper end of the guidewall during the fall. Excavation work was taken up again April 11, 1907 and was continued until September 3, 1907, when the excavation for the lock and guide-walls and a section of the dam, including the south pier, was completed.

The shovel was then moved to Rotterdam for use on Lock 9. The excavation at lock No. 10 was placed in spoil banks, except the material used in backfilling for the upper guide-wall. Pile driving was started in the upper guide-wall May 18, 1907.

where the excavation for lock No. 9 was begun September 25.

View from the west of the lock.
View from the west of the lock.  
Lock Sign.
Lock Sign.  
Construction items for fixing the lock after flood of 2006.
Construction items for fixing the lock after flood of 2006.  
Piled debris from the flood of 2006.
Piled debris from the flood of 2006.  
Construction barges working on the spillway.
Construction barges working on the spillway.  

For locks E11 to E20 see Erie Canal Locks (E11 to E20).

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