One chance to see newly-restored Flight of Five lock in 2019

James Neiss/staff photographerCrews with Hohl Industrial Services install a lock gate for the newly restored original Flight of Five lock 68 on Monday. For more photos of the lock gate installation, visit our website at www.niagara-gazette.com.

LOCKPORT — Erie Canal history buffs will have one chance to see a demonstration of the newly-restored lock 68 before the canal closes for the season.

Volunteer lock tenders will hold a demonstration of the 68, the third Flight of Five lock in working order, at Locktoberfest on Sept. 28, according to David Kinyon, president of the nonprofit Locks Heritage District Corporation. The demonstration will follow a locks dedication ceremony at 10 a.m.

The project contractor, Hohl Industrial Services, completed the restoration Monday by installing two 12-foot-tall, five-ton wooden lock gates. The gates are replicas of the lock gates used upon the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825. Like the original locks, they are operated by one-ton balance beams (which were also fabricated by Hohl). 

The original Flight of Five were used until 1909, when larger electric lift locks were installed as part of the canal enlargement known as the New York State Barge Canal.

The Erie Canal is slated to close Oct. 16. The LHDC had previously planned to hold its final locks demonstrations during Locktoberfest, though Kinyon said they had hoped to have the restoration finished earlier.

"We’d been hoping ... to have provided demonstrations for a couple weeks leading up to Locktoberfest," he said.

The LHDC is evaluating its tours and demonstrations for 2020 that take advantage of the third operational Flight of Five lock.

The $1.3 million project was funded primarily through the Empire State Development Corporation. The first phase of the restoration, which included locks 69 and 70, was completed in 2014. The LHDC is already working to secure funding for the restoration of locks 67 and 71, estimated at $7 million total, and hopes to complete the projects by 2025 — the 200th anniversary of the completion of the Erie Canal. 

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