NYS Canal Corp. helped fund project next to Erie Canal as part of Regional Economic Development Council Program
The renovated Locks District Museum, which tells the story of the Erie Canal and the vital role Lockport has played in its rich heritage, will have its formal dedication on Saturday, Sept. 29.
The project was funded in part by an $85,000 grant by the New York State Canal Corp. and a $75,000 grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, both awarded in 2016 as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Council program.
The Canal Corp. awards up to $1 million in competitive grants as part of the REDC program. The state funding enabled the building to be renovated and for state-of-the-art exhibits to be installed.
"Lockport is one of the most popular destinations on the state Canal System for good reason," said Brian U. Stratton, Canal Corp. director. "The Locks District Museum will complement the ample offerings for Erie Canal enthusiasts and visitors that the city already offers."
The museum, which is run by the Locks Heritage District Corp., is located in a former Erie Canal powerhouse. A 1915-vintage electric turbine generator that provided the power to open the locks is on display. The museum, which opened in the 1980s, also tells the story of the construction and engineering for the three iterations of the Erie Canal, including the current version, which is marking its centennial this year.
"The New York State Council on the Arts is proud to support Locks District Museum with funding from the Regional Economic Development Council program," said Mara Manus, NYSCA executive director. "The museum's renovation is an investment in New York's rich history that will help drive cultural tourism for many years."
"The story of the Erie Canal construction in the Lockport area is rich with technological innovations, inventions and creative solutions," said Becky Burns, Lockport Locks Heritage District interpretation committee chair. "Our committee wanted to make sure that the questions both visitors and locals ask about that history are answered in the new Locks District Museum."
Lockport is home to the historic Flight of Five locks, which carried the Erie Canal over the Niagara Escarpment. Lockport, under the oversight of the Canal Corp., is in the midst of a multi-year process to renovate the historic locks, which ascended 60 feet in a distance of just 550 feet. Vessels today travel in Lockport through Locks E-34 and E-35, the westernmost locks on the Erie Canal.