Located in the historic city of Lockport, New York, the original Flight of Five locks along the Erie Canal are an iconic sight that draws visitors from all around the world. The locks were constructed in the mid-19th century as a method of allowing boats to traverse the 60-foot difference in water level between Lake Erie and the Genesee River.
A technological marvel at the time of its construction, the five-step lock system is an impressive reminder of early American engineering skills. It played a significant role in transforming New York State’s economy by facilitating the transportation of goods from the western frontier to the eastern seaboard. As such, it remains a symbol of the ingenuity and resilience of the pioneering Americans who carved out a prosperous path for their descendants.
Today, these locks remain in remarkably good condition considering their age and the tremendous physical pressures they have endured. The Flight of Five locks are no longer used for their original purpose; they have been superseded by the Lockport Locks, two larger and more efficient locks that were constructed in 1910.
Nevertheless, the Flight of Five stands as a tribute to the country's early industry and continues to captivate those who visit them. If you find yourself in the vicinity of Niagara Falls, the locks are well worth a detour. There's plenty to see and do in the surrounding area, which is rich in history and natural beauty. Take a walk along the canal path, stop by the Erie Canal Discovery Center to learn more about this marvel of 19th-century engineering and definitely take a ride on the Erie Canal!
Treat yourself to a quiet cruise along the historic waterway that connects the Hudson and Niagara Rivers. This two-hour cruise will have you passing under bridges that raise straight up! Not to mention watching as your boat moves up and down the locks. Cruises depart daily - May through October - at Lockport’s Canal complex located along the banks of the Erie Canal. Snacks and beverages are available on board. Cruise operating hours vary for each season, so call ahead and make reservations.
Don’t forget to enjoy the scenery around you as you explore the Erie Canal – the area is especially beautiful in the fall when the trees turn bright shades of red, orange, and yellow. Overall, a trip to the Flight of Five locks promises a day filled with historic exploration, engineering marvels, and scenic beauty.