Skip to content
Interpreting the Evidence

North Bank of Lockport Locks, 1907

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Erie Canal

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    Western New York
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load North Bank of Lockport Locks, 1907 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
The north bank of the Lockport locks from Pine Street east and west, April 3, 1907.
Historical Context
Bids for lease of the surplus waters of the State Canal System were advertised by the Canal Commissioners in 1825.  Birdsill Holly, an inventor and industrialist, was the chief engineer for the Lockport Hydraulic Company and the Holly Manufacturing Company (seen in the photo).  He designed and supervised the construction of a 1,600-foot underground tunnel from the north side of the canal to the Holly Manufacturing Company.  The surplus canal water that flowed through the tunnel provided mechanical power to three industries that employed approximately 2,000 people.
Essential Question
Why are waterways important to a community?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain why this business would be located near the waterway.
Historical Challenges
Research the three industries that benefited from the surplus water and what impact they had on the New York State economy. Identify three bodies of water in New York State that supply power to businesses today.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science: Describe how a tunnel was built underwater in the early 1900s. How long was the tunnel associated with the hydraulic company of Lockport? Is there any connection between the Lockport Hydraulic Company and the Holly Manufacturing Company? Which one was built first, and are they similar or different?
English Language Arts: Create a letter requesting the surplus water. Convince the government that you and your business should receive the water.