Erie Canal Locks 2

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Lock E11

Lock E11

A tranquil morning at Guy Park.
Location: Erie Canal
Nearest Town: Amsterdam
Phone Number: (518) 843-2120
Lift: 12 feet
Upstream Elev.: 255.4 feet
Downstream Elev.: 267.4 feet
NYS guide: Page E-60
Lock east: Lock E10 (4.05 miles)
Lock west: Lock E12 (4.75 miles)
How to Lock Through

Erie Canal Lock 11 in Amsterdam is a nice place to visit for a number of reasons. First is that it is located next to the Guy Park Mansion which host a museum to visit. Second is that free power (15A) is available at the upper wall for boaters to use. There is a large lawn to use if you want to throw a frisbee or ball, and then there is the lock to visit as well.

The primary contractor for Lock E-11 was Alexander Murdock of Baltimore, Maryland. Work began in 1907 and was completed by 1912 at a cost of about $450,000. Over 113,000 cubic yards of earth and 2,400 cubic yards of solid rock were excavated. Concrete used in the construction totaled 28,650 cubic yards. Much of the stone was quarried from a site located across the street. Almost 4,000,000 pounds of structural steel were used in the lock, and 200,000 pounds of iron chain. The lock has a usable width of 44 and 1/2 feet and a length of 300 feet.

The sunset from the upper wall.
The sunset from the upper wall.  
Guy Park provides electricity and water to transient boaters.
Guy Park provides electricity and water to transient boaters.  
The spillway at Lock E11.
The spillway at Lock E11.  

Lock E12

Lock E12

The lockhouse is located well above the river, but the floods of 2006 still reached it!
Location: Erie Canal
Nearest Town: Tribes Hill
Phone Number: (518) 829-7331
Lift: 11 feet
Upstream Elev.: 278 feet
Downstream Elev.: 267 feet
NYS guide: Page E-59
Lock east: Lock E11 (4.57 miles)
Lock west: Lock E13 (9.68 miles)
How to Lock Through

Erie Canal Lock 12 is in the hamlet of Tribes Hill. In 1989 Lock E12 was designated the "James Shanahan Lock". In 1864 he built the first bridge over the Hudson River at Albany. Shanahan was Superintendent of New York State Canals from 1878 until 1897.

The Lock is not directly located in a town, but the lock walls make quiet overnights and the Old Erie Canal Aqueduct over Schoharie Creek is a feat of engineering of its time. There is a boat launch adjacent to the Aqueduct, but watch your depth at it is not a dredged area.

Old Erie Canal had an aqueduct over the Schoharie Creek and is definitely worth a look.
Old Erie Canal had an aqueduct over the Schoharie Creek and is definitely worth a look.  
The lock sign.
The lock sign.  
The spillway adjacent to the lock.
The spillway adjacent to the lock.  
The lower side of the lock.
The lower side of the lock.  
The upper side of the lock has very little water clearance.
The upper side of the lock has very little water clearance.  
The upper wall at the lock is a quiet place to overnight.
The upper wall at the lock is a quiet place to overnight.  

Lock E13

Erie Canal Lock 13 is in Randall and raises and lowers boats 8 feet. This lock is 9.68 miles west of Lock E12. There are two old concrete barges shoring up the bank of the river below Lock E13. The photo shows the stern end of a barge with hull number U.S. 102. There are also addition concrete barges like this one at Erie Canal Lock E9.

The submerged concrete barges have moorings added on top of them, use caution when approaching these, they do not make good moorings. Also note that this is another lock that has a low wall, make sure you lower your fenders.

The upstream elevation here is 286 feet above sea level and the downstream is 278 feet. The lock master can be reached on VHF radio channel 13 or by phone at (518) 922-6173. It is another 7.9 miles to Lock E14.

Traveling by boat to Lock 13 is far easier than by car or foot. Lock 13 was built in a rural area, and during the construction of the NYS Thruway (Interstate 90), the lock was cut-off from nearby roads. Vehicles can now only access the lock via the Thruway. There is a small tunnel under the Thruway that allows walking to the lock. Parking is found adjacent to the Thruway at the end of Old River Road West, just before the gated access to the NYS Thruway Maintenance Barn. The land-side access is the most unusual of all the NYS canal locks.

Lock 13, like most locks along the Mohawk River, utilized a gas powered electric generators. During the early 1900s there was no local electricity available for the lock to use. Thus two two 50 KW turbines were installed. Those traveling the Thruway notice this building, intact and relatively unchanged from its construction nearly 100 years ago. It is located quite a distance away from the lock itself, which kept smoke, noise and other unpleasant byproducts of the gas engines away from the lock tenders. It also moved the building further away from the flood plain.

Most locks that do not have an associated movable dam adjacent to them utilized hydro-power, but those along the Mohawk River could not benefit from the clean electricity. During the winter the dam's gates needed to be lifted, and with the water lowered, the hydro generators could not operate. Therefore at these locations gas generators were installed, and this provided power on demand. The downside of these gas generators was that they needed to be operated almost constantly. Lock operation, lighting, operation of tools, cooking, and all other electrical needs required that the engines. There were two generators at each power station along the canal, this allowed continual operation during the event of a failure or maintenance. If both generators went down, the lock are able to be operated manually, but this is a slow process.

The view from the lower side of the lock.
The view from the lower side of the lock.  
A damaged lockhouse from the floods of 2006.
A damaged lockhouse from the floods of 2006.  
A submerged concrete barge at Lock E13.
A submerged concrete barge at Lock E13.  
The submerged concrete barges moorings.
The submerged concrete barges moorings.  
The spillway next to the lock.
The spillway next to the lock.  
The view of the lower doors.
The view of the lower doors.  
Going down looking west, notice the 1' of dry wall.
Going down looking west, notice the 1' of dry wall.  

Lock E14

Lock E14

Lock E14 from the west during reconstruction from damage by the flood of 2006.
Location: Erie Canal
Nearest Town: Canajoharie
Lift: 8 feet
Upstream Elev.: 294.4 feet
Downstream Elev.: 286.4 feet
Lock east: Lock E13 (7.9 miles)
Lock west: Lock E15 (3 miles)
How to Lock Through

Erie Canal Lock 14 is located on the northern side of the Mohawk River in Canajoharie. This lock is located just west of the Riverfront Park, and can also be seen from the NYS Thruway. This is one of the canal locks that suffered considerable damage during the flood of 2006 and underwent construction of the dam even through 2009. There is a small island that separates the lock from the dam.

Boaters should not consider this as a place to stop, and it is hardly an ideal spot to stop anyways. The lock is located adjacent to the major train tracks in the area and thus it does not make a quiet night. Boaters interested in overnighting in the area should consider Riverfront Park first, followed by other nearby locks (E16) and terminal walls (St Johnsville or Fonda Terminal).

Lock E15

Lock E15

Lock E15 from the lower side with the spillway to the right.
Location: Erie Canal
Nearest Town: Fort Plain
Lift: 8 feet
Upstream Elev.: 302.4 feet
Downstream Elev.: 294.4 feet
Lock east: Lock E14 (3 miles)
Lock west: Lock E16 (6 miles)
How to Lock Through
Erie Canal Lock 15 is the westernmost lock that is directly on the Mohawk River. Located in Fort Plain, this lock and associated dam is easily seen by drivers heading westbound. This lock does have room for overnight stays, but there are no services and the nearby Thruway (I-90) and train tracks creates noise all night long. Boaters are better served at the St Johnsville or Canajoharie walls where boater services are available, or at Lock E16 for those looking for seclusion (no services).

This lock was heavily damaged in the June floods of 2006 and work lasted years to erase the damage.

Even over a year after the flood, the lock was undergoing serious renovations.
Even over a year after the flood, the lock was undergoing serious renovations.  
View of the spillway from inside the lock.
View of the spillway from inside the lock.  
The lower door of the locks was not operating properly on this day.
The lower door of the locks was not operating properly on this day.  

Lock E16

Lock E16

Location: Erie Canal
Nearest Town: Mindenville
Lift: 20.5 feet
Upstream Elev.: 322.9 feet
Downstream Elev.: 302.4 feet
Lock east: Lock E15 (6 miles)
Lock west: Lock E17 (8 miles)
How to Lock Through


Erie Canal Lock 16 is located in the country away from traveled roads and train tracks (a refreshing thought for westbound traffic!) in the town of Mindenville. While heading west, this is one of the first times that the Erie Canal actually feels like a canal and not like a river. The lock raises boats from the river into an artificial channel separating the canal from the main river. Adjacent to the lock is the Canalway Trail and a small park with picnic tables.

Boaters interested in tying up here have three options, all on the western side of the lock. There are no services here, but it does provide one of the more rural and quiet locations along the entire canal system. The first option is on the southern approach wall. There is room for a few vessels here and located nearby are a few picnic tables and the Canalway Trail.

The second option is located about 1000 feet west of the main lock at a separate wall. Interestingly this wall is actually the chamber wall of Enlarged Erie Canal Lock 34 dating back 150 years. The wall is made of stone and the cut-outs for the lock doors are visible. Tying here requires long lines and the depth is unknown, so deep draft vessels should take care.

The third and final option for tying up should be used for those that do not plan on leaving there boat for the night. The northwest approach wall of the lock provides plenty of room for docking, but unfortunately this is on the island, and access to the main lock and south side of the canal requires getting across the spillway. In times of low water this is not an impossible task, but it can still be slippery. During times of high water this is impossible. Also, those venturing away from their boats may come back to find that the water levels rose and thus the spillway is not crossable. This option is best used if the other two options are full and you do not need access to the south side of the lock.

Construction

Construction of Lock 16 was put under contract on December 28, 1906, which also included the construction of the nearby a guard-gate at Indian Castle, and digging 3.63 miles of artificial canal (from the lock west to the river). The contract was awarded to O'Brien & Hoolihan Contracting Company of Syracuse.

Work began January 31, 1907, by clearing at the site of the lock. On February 7, 1907, the excavation was started for the temporary canal, which replaced part of the old canal required for the construction of the new lock. The temporary canal was finished April 24, 1907. The excavation amounted to 37,400 cubic yards, and the embankment to 3,900 cubic yards. Excavation at the site of the lock was begun May 14, 1907, and the steam shovel finished its excavation September 18, 1907. The construction of lock was begun at the westerly end of the south upper guard-wall on July 27, 1907.

In order to prevent a break in the bank between the temporary canal and the pit excavated for lock No. 16, 400 linear feet of 20-foot steel sheet-piling were been driven parallel to and near the northerly edge of the temporary canal.

Lock E17

Lock E17

Lock E17 from the downstream side.
Location: Erie Canal
Nearest Town: Little Falls
Phone Number: (315) 823-0650
Lift: 40.5 feet
Upstream Elev.: 363.4 feet
Downstream Elev.: 322.9 feet
NYS guide: Page E-51 / E-52
Lock east: Lock E16 (8 miles)
Lock west: Lock E18 (4 miles)
How to Lock Through

Erie Canal Lock 17 is located in Little Falls and is the largest lock in New York State. The lock lifts every passing vessel an astounding 40.5 feet, replacing four locks on the old canal by just one. Construction on this lock was challenging. Design elements called for a unique feature, a water saving side pool which would allow about half of water from a locking to be reused on the next locking. Couple this extra feature with its massive size, the need to build it in solid rock, and keep the old Erie Canal open, which this was built directly on top of, required massive engineering. This design included a guillotine style lower gate and a concrete arch of which the boats pass under -- the only implementation of such a design along the canal system.

The lock was built in stages. First the lock itself would be built, and the old Erie Canal would pass to the south, where a wooden dock was constructed to carry the towpath. A dike was setup to separate the lock from the canal and then the lock was built.

An extra engineering challenge here in Little Falls is the rock which the lock was built upon. It necessitated that the northern chamber wall could not carry normal filling tunnels and valves. This meant that the largest chamber on the canal would only be filled from the south side.

Once the lock was constructed, two sets of permanent dams were created to the south of the lock. The fist is the one seen clearly today holding back the river at the western end of the lock. Another dam was also created at the eastern end of the lock, but at a lower elevation. This, combined with digging a large enough "pond", allowed the upper half of the lock to be drained not into the Mohawk River, but rather into this pool. When the lock then needed to be refilled, the first half of the lock would be filled with this recycled water, and not the water from upstream.

This recycling of water is the only place along the canal system that made use of such a system, primarily because most locks under 25 feet gain little with such a system. But with 40.5' feet of lift and a location near the headwaters of the Mohawk River, this design would allow the lock to operate all day without significantly draining the upstream reservoirs.

Unfortunately the traffic that this lock was created to handle never happened, and today the lock is operated only small percentage of what it was designed to carry. Therefore sometime in later half of the 1900s (between 1957-1980s) the lock side-pool was no longer used, and filled in as a parking lot. Presumably the tunnels were capped in concrete. If you know more about the re-engineering of this unique lock please let me know at greg@nycanals.com.

On the grounds of the lock there are also the remains of the Enlarged Erie Canal Lock 36. This chamber of Lock 36 is all that remains of this lock, the northern chamber was demolished for access to the modern Lock 17. This lock was one of the four locks that were needed to carry the Erie Canal up over the "little falls".

Boaters interested in stopping here can tie up on the eastern side of the lock, under the large bridge. This location does not make a great overnight due to the noise of the traffic above. Lock E16 and Little Falls terminal wall makes a better overnight spot. There are no docks on the upstream side of the lock.

Because the lift is so large and the lock fills and empties from only one side, all craft are required to tie up to the southern wall. All eastbound boaters and unlucky westbound boaters who arrive soon after the lifting of the guillotine gate can expect a "shower" of canal water falling from above. Make sure you put away anything that can be damaged or stained by small amounts of water. Books, white towels, etc. should be stowed, as Murphy's Law says, if you leave it out, the one dripping spot will be directly over your clean white towel and paperback book.

The Erie Canalway trail runs adjacent to the lock, on the bed of an old railroad track. There is an entryway halfway between the old Lock 36 and the new Lock 17. Also on the north side of the lock is Moss Island, with a canal side trail and trails around the island to old glacial "potholes".

The remains of the Enlarged Erie Canal Lock 36 in Little Falls.
The remains of the Enlarged Erie Canal Lock 36 in Little Falls.  
Lock E17 from the downstream side.
Lock E17 from the downstream side.  
View from deep inside Lock E17.
View from deep inside Lock E17.  
Lock Sign.
Lock Sign.  
View from above of Lock E17 when the side pool was still in use.
View from above of Lock E17 when the side pool was still in use.  
An early postcard of Lock E17 showing the lock and filled side pool.
An early postcard of Lock E17 showing the lock and filled side pool.  

Lock E18

Lock E18

Lock E18 in Jacksonburg.
Location: Erie Canal
Nearest Town: Jacksonburg
Phone Number: (315) 823-2419
Lift: 20 feet
Upstream Elev.: 383.4 feet
Downstream Elev.: 363.4 feet
NYS guide: Page E-51
Lock east: Lock E17 (4 miles)
Lock west: Lock E19 (13 miles)
How to Lock Through


Erie Canal Lock 18 is the located just west of Little Falls. It is a located in a quiet place located in the country away from heavily traveled roads and the train tracks. There is no mooring on the lower side of the lock, but there are numerous opportunities on the upper side. There is a small park with picnic tables and the canalway trail runs along the south side of the canal in this area. If you are looking for a quiet spot to just relax "in the woods", this makes a great tie-up.

The best spot for mooring is on the south side approach wall with street lights.

Lock E18 Signs.
Lock E18 Signs.  
A tender boat moored to the south wall along Lock E18.
A tender boat moored to the south wall along Lock E18.  

Lock E19

Lock E19

Lock E19 in Frankfort.
Location: Erie Canal
Nearest Town: Utica
Phone Number: (315) 733-5041
Lift: 21 feet
Upstream Elev.: 404.4 feet
Downstream Elev.: 383.4 feet
NYS guide: Page E-46 / E-49
Lock east: Lock E18 (13 miles)
Lock west: Lock E20 (10 miles)
How to Lock Through


Erie Canal Lock 19 is the located just west of Frankfort. It is a unique experience when entering from the east or leaving from the west as the Railroad bridge, steep sides and narrow channel make for a tight squeeze. The bridge is one of the lower ones on the Erie Canal at only about 21 feet at normal pool level, but there is a height gauge to take the guess work out of it.

Lock E20

Lock E20

Lock E20 in Marcy.
Location: Erie Canal
Nearest Town: Marcy
Lift: 16 feet
Upstream Elev.: 420.4 feet
Downstream Elev.: 404.4 feet
NYS guide: Page E-46
Lock east: Lock E19 (10 miles)
Lock west: Lock E21 (18 miles)
How to Lock Through

Erie Canal Lock 20 is the located just west of Utica and it a nice place to stop for lunch or the night. Located on site is numerous facilitates. There is power (15/50 amp, no 30 amp), water, bathrooms, a pavilion, the Canalway trail and more.

Marcy is approximately 3/4 mile walk, where there are many specialty shops.

The lock is to the right, and the floating dock w/ power/water is to the left.  Also seen is the shelter where bands play on select days.
The lock is to the right, and the floating dock w/ power/water is to the left. Also seen is the shelter where bands play on select days.  
The 'Grande Caribe' squeezes into the lock on a fall foliage tour.
The 'Grande Caribe' squeezes into the lock on a fall foliage tour.  
Free Power and water available thanks to the Marcy Chamber of Commerce, donations appreciated.
Free Power and water available thanks to the Marcy Chamber of Commerce, donations appreciated.  
The view when entering the lock from the East.
The view when entering the lock from the East.  

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

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