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 created cast bronze life-size 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 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, was completed in 2020. Five more figures (Phase II) was installed in 2021, and the final six figures were added in 2023.
(Frank) F.B. Clench was a student of renowned Buffalo photographer J.T. Upson and opened his Lockport studio at 76 Main Street in 1864, where he hosted an art and photo gallery. Clench specialized in the use of the powerful stereopticon instrument, and later patented the design of ‘photographic cards’. Clench’s career took him in 1889 to Fairport, New York, where he died in 1914 at the age of 75.
Phase III of the Lock Tenders Tribute was installed September 1, 2023, with the generous assistance of Clark Rigging and D.R. Chamberlain Construction, along with a team of volunteers.