Lockport remembers and celebrates those who labored 12 hour days from April through November every year to enable boats to navigate through the Erie Canal Flight of Five Locks and deliver their freight to Buffalo and points west, or east to New York City and subsequent final destinations including other continents. An 1897 photo of 12 Lockport Lock Tenders and a little girl has been hailed as a striking depiction, worthy of memorializing as the Lock Tenders Tribute Monument.
Lewiston artist Susan Geissler has been commissioned to create cast bronze life-sculptures of the 12 Lock Tenders, the little girl (a daughter of one of the Lock Tenders in the photo) and the photographer. The completed sculptures are being installed on the very stairs in the Lockport Locks where the Lock Tenders were photographed over 150 years ago. Phase I of the Lock Tenders Tribute Monument, consisting of three of the figures, is available to visitors during the 2020 season. Phase II will feature five additional figures, and will be installed in the spring of 2021. Fund raising continues for the remaining figures.
A Riley’s Way Sign at the site of the Lock Tenders Tribute Monument tells the story of these 12 Lock Tenders and their times. The Lock Tenders Tribute Monument is dedicated to all those who toiled, working on the 19th Century Erie Canal, as well as on today’s Erie Barge Canal.