Old Champlain Canal

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The waterway route connecting New York City with Montreal via the Hudson River, Wood Creek, Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River has played a critical role in the history of New York and the United States. Many famous battles have taken place along this route including Native American conflicts and battles of the French and Indian War, Revolutionary War and War of 1812.

On April 15, 1817, to enhance trade in the area and export precious raw materials out of the Champlain Valley, a bill was passed by New York Legislators which appropriated funds and created a committee to build a navigable waterway connecting the Lower Hudson River with Lake Champlain (as well as the Lower Hudson River with Lake Erie...the Erie Canal). Six years later the Champlain Canal was officially opened on September 10, 1823 simultaneously with the stretch of Erie Canal from Albany to Rochester. The 64 mile waterway between Whitehall and Waterford consisted of 46.5 miles of artificial channel and 17.5 miles improved river.

There are numerous remains of the former canals and feeders, primarily in Waterford where the original canal is used as a feeder for Lock E2 of the Erie Canal. The Glens Falls Feeder canal another intact part of the former canal. The feeder was a navigable canal that also supplied water to the Champlain Canal to prevent low water levels in times of drought; today this feeder canal and the remains of its locks are easily viewable by taking a walk or bike ride on the old tow path. There are efforts underway to further restore this historic waterway. This page contains a glimpse into some of the remaining parts of this historic canal.

Lock 1 (Cohoes)

Lock One was the first lock of twenty along the Champlain Canal. It lifted boats approximately 10.75 feet. Unfortunately one means of travel was replaced by another and this lock has been lost to the highway system. It is located just south of the visible Lock 2 by a few hundred feet, most likely under the southbound lane of 787 just north of the Dyke Ave. intersection.

Lock 2 (Cohoes)

Lock Two is still visible today on the west side of 787 just north of Dyke Ave. This lock lifted boat 10.75 feet. The lock is in fair condition due to being abandoned 100 years ago and is showing signs of wear. It is unprotected from the the busy highway and thus if you seek to explore here do so with caution.

Lock 3 (Cohoes)

This lock was located on the south side of the Mohawk River and served as both a guard lock and a lift lock. It protected the canal from the Mohawk River as well as lowered boats 8.5 feet. It is now lost to history and no longer visible.

Lock 4 (Waterford)

Old Champlain Canal Lock 4
Old Champlain Canal Lock 4

Lock 4 is located at the southern end of Waterford where the old Champlain Canal meets with the Mohawk River. The lock was used to raise boats up from the Mohawk River crossing pool created by a state dam to the artificial channel dug through Waterford. The single chamber enlarged lock raised boats 9 feet.

This locks it still in good shape and is currently used to help control the water flow in the old canal. It is easily accessible via the power plant parking lot adjacent to it.

Sidecut Locks (Waterford)

The view up the sidecut locks at Waterford.
The view up the sidecut locks at Waterford.

Serving as an alternative way to get from the Champlain Canal to the Hudson River, the Sidecut Locks are a flight of three combined locks. The three locks combined raised and lowered boats about thirty feet. This simple sidecut allowed boats to enter the Hudson River without entering the Old Erie Canal, thus reducing travel time and congestion.

The sidecut is located adjacent to the modern day (and singlehandedly replaced by) Lock E2, the flight of locks still play an integral part of the canal system as a waste weir.

Champlain Canal Weigh-lock

Old Champlain Canal Weightlock
Old Champlain Canal Weightlock

Finished in the summer of 1862, the weigh-lock at Waterford was a big boost to efficiency on both the Champlain Canal and the Old Erie Canal. Until this time there was only one weigh lock in West Troy to measure the weight of boats heading west down the Erie Canal or North up the Champlain Canal. The single weigh-lock was unable to keep up with the demand by boats and caused many boats unnecessary delays.

It also had the advantage that boats traveling up the Hudson River could bypass Albany and enter the Champlain Canal at Waterford through the Waterford Sidecut Locks. This meant less crowding on the canals and thus even more efficiency.

The building is long gone, but the stone support structure is still visible from the Champlain Canalway Trail, just north of the heart of Waterford.

Old Champlain Canal Railroad Bridge

A old stone supported railroad bridge on the Old Champlain Canal.
A old stone supported railroad bridge on the Old Champlain Canal.

Traveling north out of the heart of Waterford on the Old Champlain Canal is a railroad bridge that crosses the canal. While this is usually not of great importace, taking a closer look reveals that the bridge is much like how all bridges were 100 years ago along the canals. It is supported by cut stone, not concrete, and is made such that it spans both the towpath and canal.

Lock 5 (Waterford)

Old Champlain Canal Lock 5.
Old Champlain Canal Lock 5.

Lock 5 is north of the heart of Waterford by about a mile and is only accessible by the Champlain Canalway Trail. The single chamber lock raised and lowered boats 9 feet. It is quite well preserved excluding the north end of the lock being filled in with concrete to create a dam.

Lock 6 (Halfmoon)

Lock 6 was (is?) located just north of Waterford and unfortunately cannot be found. It lifted boats 9 feet. If you know where this lock is or might be, please let me know on the forum or email me (Greg) at [email protected] It appears to be north of lock 5 about 2/3 the distance to lock 7.

Wilson's Culvert (Owl Creek, Halfmoon)

Wilson's Culvert is a large culvert that allows Owl Creek to freely pass beneath the Champlain Canal. It is located just north of the Brookwood Road in the Town of Halfmoon.

Flynn's Culvert and Waste Weir (McDonald Creek, Halfmoon)

This combination culvert and waste weir allows McDonald Creek to pass freely under the canal as well as let excess water from the canal to runoff into the creek. This site is located just south of Old Champlain Canal Lock 7 and is accessible from the Champlain Canalway Trail from either Lower New Town Road or Upper Newton Road in the Town of Halfmoon.

Lock 7 (Halfmoon)

Lock 7 is in the town of Halfmoon and is accessible by the Canalway Trail. This lock lifted boats 9.25 feet.

Lock 8 (Halfmoon)

Lock 8 is located approximately a mile north of Upper Newtown Road, on a privately owned section of the old canal bed. The lock lifted boats 8.75 feet (100 feet above sea level) into the level between Beckers and Schuylerville.

Schuylerville Junction Lock

This lock is located alongside the present day Lock C5 and was built during the construction of the present day Champlain Canal. This lock allowed boats to access the Old Champlain Canal through the heart of Schuylerville thus keeping existing canal-side businesses operational. Like the old canal, the lock was eventually abandoned and sealed off. See Schuylerville Junction Lock for photos and more information.

Lock 9

Lift: 10 feet, Location: Saratoga

Lock 10

Lift: 9.75 feet

Lock 11

Lift: 11.25 feet

Lock 12 (Greenwich)

Lock 12 of the enlarged Champlain Canal (1962 era) is located in the town of Greenwich directly alongside State Route 4. The stone of the lock is in reasonable condition considering it is about 150 years old, but the doors are not visible, probably sitting under water. The lock used to lift and lower boats 9 feet.

Currently there is a historical marker on the site, though it is about General (President) Washington's visit to the area, and not about the Champlain Canal. The maker reads: GEN WASHINGTON; in the summer of 1783, General George Washington was in the township of Greenwich, while on a tour of the northern battle fields.

Directions: The lock is located on the eastern side of State Route 4 in the town of Greenwich, a few hundred yards south of the Bald Mountain Road intersection. There is a "U" style turn-off/parking area. The lock is not visible, only the historical marker and wooden fence. For those traveling from the south, the canal parallels Route 4 from the Hudson River crossing past the lock.

Lock 13 (Fort Miller)

Lock 13 is located a few hundred yards north of the modern Champlain Canal Lock 6 on the eastern shore. The lock is accessible by walking north on the east bank of modern canal from the parking lot. When at the end of the lawn and pier, turn directly towards the east and find a small walking path that leads to the lock.

Lock 14 (Moses Kill)

Junction Lock at Fort Edward

With the construction of the modern Champlain Barge Canal there was a need to allow boats to still make use of the old Champlain Canal that ran through the heart of Fort Edward and allow access to the Glens Falls Feeder Canal. To do this a junction lock was constructed that would allow boats to raise up to the height of the existing canal (the new canal was lower) and then continue on the old Champlain Canal until its junction with the Glens Falls Feeder Canal.

This lock is located in town on the north east side of the intersection of Argyle Street and Broadway (Route 4), with public access from Argyle Street following the old canal bed.

Lock 15 (Fort Edward)

Lock 16 (Fort Ann)

Lock 17 (Fort Ann)

Lock 18 (Fort Ann)

Lock 19 (Comstock)

This lock is located adjacent to the current Champlain Canal, partially submerged under water. GPS coordinates: N 43 26.738, W 73 26.801

Lock 20 (Whitehall)

Champlain Canal
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