Introduction to Lock 52

Introduction to Lock 52

As you approach the stonework of Lock 52, which was the 52nd lock from Albany, you are coming here midway in the history of the Erie Canal. This lock was built in 1853, during the first enlargement of the Erie Canal. Tap one of the thumbnails to see several photos of Lock 52, taken more than 125 years ago. One shows the lock chamber full of water, and another shows the chamber nearly empty.

The original Erie Canal is referred to as Clinton's Ditch in recognition of its greatest promoter, New York State governor DeWitt Clinton. Work on Clinton's Ditch began in 1817, and the portion here in Port Byron was completed in 1819. The canal was completed statewide, from Buffalo to Albany, in October of 1825.

Almost immediately, its builders realized that it was too small. The rebuilding expanded the canal from a depth of four feet to seven feet, and from a width of forty feet to seventy feet. It also straightened the canal route. Here in Port Byron, Clinton's Ditch hugged the hillside to the south. The original 1819 lock was a short distance to the southeast of Lock 52.

The last boats came through Lock 52 in 1917, when the canal was rebuilt again. The third version of the Erie Canal was moved three miles north into the Seneca River, completely bypassing Lock 52 and the village of Port Byron. It’s the operating canal system that’s still used today.

For a map of the current Erie Canal, tap the link:

To continue your tour, tap the map icon at the bottom of the screen to locate stop 1, or just continue along the path towards the larger lock, to post number 1.

  • PLAY: Introduction to Lock 52

Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park