Troy Federal Lock

Across the river looking east to the lock.
Across the river looking east to the lock.

The Troy Federal Lock and Dam is located in the city of Troy on the Hudson River. This is the first lock that a boater approaches when traveling northbound on the Hudson River. It is located 134 nautical miles north of the Battery in NYC and marks the end of tidal waters.

For those traveling northbound, once through the lock, it is another 3 miles before reaching the Erie Canal and Champlain Canal junction at Waterford.

Phone: 518-272-6442

Ownership and lock numbering

In the early 1900s, when state engineers were planning locations for locks on the Modern Barge Canal, they assumed that the first lock on the Erie Canal would be here in Troy on the Hudson River.

There was one issues that would muddy the waters though, the lock location in Troy was technically in federal waters, and thus under federal jurisdiction. At the time, New Yorkers hoped that because it was under federal control, the lock would be built by the federal government, and thus not at a direct expense to New York State which was already spending over 150 million dollars on canal improvements.

It was not immediately clear that the federal government would enlarge the existing lock here in Troy (there was a smaller lock for use by old Champlain Canal boats). Therefore while designing blueprints, particularly for the locks in Waterford, they started numbering with Lock E2 and not Lock E1, because of the uncertainty of who actually build the lock.

Ultimately the federal government built the lock and completed the necessary dredging in the area. They also retained operations and authority over the lock and thus it was call the Troy Federal Lock and Dam and not Erie Canal Lock 1. This numbering issue confuses boaters to this day. Many ask, if this is Erie Canal Lock 2, where is the first one? Many naturally point to the Troy Federal Lock, and they are right.

The Erie Canal Locks have never been renumbered since original blueprints were drawn starting just after 1903, about ten years before the construction of this lock began. Perhaps it was better this way, as renumbering the locks halfway through construction would have been confusing, as would renumbering them today.

The Champlain Canal was unaffected by this numbering issue. The Champlain Canal was originally designed to begin in Waterford where at the Erie Canal junction is today. This is similar to how it always been since first constructed in 1817. Thus the Champlain Canal begins Waterford, and the first lock encountered is fittingly Champlain Canal Lock 1.

Lock facts and figures

Opened in 1916 it was one of the first modern locks along the present day canal system. It contains a single chamber that is 520 feet long, 45 feet wide and 17 feet deep. At normal operating depths, it lifts boats 14 feet.

Unfortunately there is no public access by foot to the lock, unlike all the NYS Canal System Locks. It also lacks the beautiful grounds and overnighting abilities that New York State locks offer. In reports on ways to improve the canal system, there has been a plea by the New York State Canal Corporation to take control of the lock.

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