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A Photo Tour of the New York State Canal System

History of the New York State Canal System

The Erie Canal runs on an east-west axis across New York state and the Champlain canal on a north-south axis. The canal system connected the Hudson and Mohawk rivers with Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence seaway to the north, and to Lake Ontario to the West. The canal was builtin the 19th century for shipping bulk goods such as lumber and gravel across New York State.

The locks had commercial traffic on them until the early 1990's. Tugboats and barges of gravel, lumber, and tanks of fuel oil and aviation fuel were common sights. This has slowed, though the Champlain canal is going to resume commercial traffic with gravel transportation.

The locks are operated and maintained by state employees. The lock operators open and close the locks to allow boats to pass. Buoy tenders and scows, and the occasional tugboat are seen at the locks.

Today, the locks are state parks with opportunities for boating, fishing, walking, biking, picnicking, and photography. The lock system allows boaters to traverse New York State.

The NYS Canal System

The NYS Locks

Lock E-7 falls   Mohawk River Niskayuna, NY

Lock E-7 falls Mohawk River Niskayuna, NY

Lock C-3  Champlain Canal Mechanicville, NY

Lock C-3 Champlain Canal Mechanicville, NY

Lock E-8 Mohawk River Glenville, NY

Lock E-8 Mohawk River Glenville, NY

Lock E-9 Mohawk River Pattersonville, NY

Lock E-9 Mohawk River Pattersonville, NY

Lock E-10 Mohawk river Cranesville, NY

Lock E-10 Mohawk river Cranesville, NY

How the Locks Operate

Boats headed for the lock contact the lock operator and request lock opening. They wait until the warning lights at the ends of the lock signal them to proceed. The lock chamber is flooded or drained through a series of valves to change the water level in the lock chamber. The lock operator will then open the gates to allow boats to pass through. The lock operator controls this through booths at each end of the lock and control panels with brass controls.

Locks control features

Gate warning light Lock E-10 Mohawk River Cranesville, NY

Gate warning light Lock E-10 Mohawk River Cranesville, NY

Gate warning light Lock C-4 Champlain Canal Stillwater, NY

Gate warning light Lock C-4 Champlain Canal Stillwater, NY

Valve Control panel  Lock E-9 Mohawk River Pattersonville, NY

Valve Control panel Lock E-9 Mohawk River Pattersonville, NY

Lock control panel Schylerville, NY

Lock control panel Schylerville, NY

Lock gate Gear pit Lock C-8 Champlain Canal Hudson falls, NY

Lock gate Gear pit Lock C-8 Champlain Canal Hudson falls, NY

Lock Gates Lock E-10 Mohawk River Cranesville, NY

Lock Gates Lock E-10 Mohawk River Cranesville, NY

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Powerhouse  Champlain Canal  Lock C-11  Comstock, NY

Powerhouse Champlain Canal Lock C-11 Comstock, NY

Live saver on the lock wall Lock E-10, Cranesville NY

Live saver on the lock wall Lock E-10, Cranesville NY

Weathered Light Lock E-9, Pattersonville, NY

Weathered Light Lock E-9, Pattersonville, NY

/Staircase & Live saver, Lock E-9 Pattersonville, NY

/Staircase & Live saver, Lock E-9 Pattersonville, NY

Manual control wheel  Lock C-8 Champlain Canal Hudson Falls NY

Manual control wheel Lock C-8 Champlain Canal Hudson Falls NY

The Canals and locks are maintained and used by several types of river vessels: Buoy boats, scows, tugs, and barges. Some of these vessels were built around 1920 and are still in operation due to meticulous maintenance and upkeep.

Canal vessels

Buoy Boat tied up at Lock E-7, Niskayuna, NY

Buoy Boat tied up at Lock E-7, Niskayuna, NY

Buoy Boat tied up at lock C-9, Hudson Falls, NY

Buoy Boat tied up at lock C-9, Hudson Falls, NY

Tugboat at lock E-7, Niskayuna NY

Tugboat at lock E-7, Niskayuna NY

Skow at lock E-7, Niskayuna NY, circa 1986

Skow at lock E-7, Niskayuna NY, circa 1986

moored tugboat Lock C-4 Champlain Canal Stillwater, NY

moored tugboat Lock C-4 Champlain Canal Stillwater, NY

Skow tied up  at lock C-9, Hudson Falls, NY  Skows can serve as living areas for crews. This skow is equipped with a gas grill and picnic table.

Skow tied up at lock C-9, Hudson Falls, NY Skows can serve as living areas for crews. This skow is equipped with a gas grill and picnic table.

If you Visit:

Sunblock, insect repellent, and a camera are good items to make your visit more enjoyable.

If you are fishing in one of the lock parks, spinning gear with a six- eight lb. line is a good choice. jig heads with a chartreuse, yellow or white soft grub body all work well for the small mouth bass and pickerel that can be caught in the Mohawk and Hudson river areas, as well as the Oswego river and Champlain canal.

Fly fishing can be done from shore as there tends to be a lot of room to back cast. A six-eight lb. 5ft. leader, and big, bushy chartreuse, yellow, and white marabou streamers, woolly buggers, woolly works are good choices.

© 2022 David A Porter

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