Historic Erie Canal Locks, Cohoes
The original 1825 Erie Canal came north through Cohoes and proceeded north along Mohawk Street. The sixteen locks that brought the canal up around the Cohoes Falls were referred to as the “terrible sixteens” because it would take a whole day to bring your boat through them. One of our country’s first railroads, established in 1831 between Albany and Schenectady, was built to avoid this time delay.
After the canal was expanded and rerouted in the 1840s, the remnant of the original Erie Canal was used as a power canal for the Harmony Mills. A linear park through Cohoes follows the route of the canal. Double chamber Lock 18, north of Church Street, is on the National Register and can be seen from the Byway.
One can also follow a footpath that approximates the location of the canal towpath. At one point between the two above locations the canal route was built over by city streets. A fire house was one of the structures reportedly using one of the canal lock walls as a foundation.
Best Times to Go
During daylight hours any time of the year.
What About this Experience is Distinctive or Authentic to the Character of the Region?
These are remnents of the 1842 Enlarged Erie Canal including the cut limestone walls of the canal locks. On close inspection one can find the recesses in the cut stone where the iron work that retained the gate hinges. The large pockets in the wall where the gates were in the open position adds to the impressive engineering features.
What You Should Know Before You Go
The City of Cohoes maintains much of the canal lock area as a Park. The best access points are:
- at the north end (lock 18 pictured) is accessable, just up the hill from a small parking lot on the west side of North Mohawk Street at the Cohoes Falls Overlook Park. OR
- at the south end, Lock 12 Park, on the north side of Alexander Street.