Located along the Lockport section of the Erie Canal, this amazing underground boat ride is unique. Using a custom-built ... More
Lockport Cave Underground Boat Ride
Located along the Lockport section of the Erie Canal, this amazing underground boat ride is unique. Using a custom-built flat-bottom boat, visitors go on a half-mile trip through a man-made hydraulic raceway cut out of solid rock, the work of 19th century genius Birdsill Holly— the man who gave the world the fire hydrant and zoned steam heat. Accompanied by a guide and trained operators, the 1 1/4-hour ride is thrilling but perfectly safe. Please contact for precise timings.
This cave is not a cave at all and the web site is quite an exaggeration. The so-called "cave" is a tunnel that was used to pipe water from above the locks to power a long-gone factory. The limestone cut tunnel is about 20 feet in diameter and the central focus are the gigantic three inch (if that) stalactites dripping from the cracks. The boat ride is in a short, shallow section of the tunnel that they dammed up and filled with water. The boat ride is very short and there is not much to see as you get hit in the head from drips coming from the ceiling.
The kid giving the tour seems very enthusiastic, but he needs to learn more about the material and not make it up as he goes. I'd rather have an older history buff as a guide than some kid right out of college.
Did you know the pulp from pulp mills is used to make furniture? I always thought pulp's primary use was for the making of paper.
According to the young guide, the locks are composed of stone blocks that were just piled on top of each other...no mortar???
One of the most monumental historic events in the building of the Erie Canal was the discovery of a local source of hydraulic cement by an Erie Canal engineer, Canvass White (or some say Bartlow). Unlike standard lime mortar, hydraulic cement is water-proof and withstands erosion. Around the time of the building of the locks, the source for hydraulic cement was in the West Indies or Great Britain (who we were not on the best of terms with since the recent War of 1812). Canvass White discovered a method of making this cement from locally quarried limestone. Not only was this critical for building the Erie Canal, it was just as important for the building of New York City, especially the Brooklyn Bridge, which wouldn't have been feasible without it.
Anyway, save your money and skip the tunnel. If you want to hear their story, read their website and skip the abridged and adulterated version provided by the tour guide. You can walk down the path outside the old locks without paying the money. Stop to see the pit where logs were supposedly soaked before being ground by the nearby grinding wheels laying in the grass. (BTW, pulp is commonly ground from wood chips, that when soaked, it is usually in some nasty chemicals such as sulfurous acid, which was used in those times.)
Also highlighted in the tour is the "Upside-Down Bridge" which is a deck truss and not that uncommon of a structure but pointed out as such to keep you entertained. (for more, google lockport truss bridge....URLs are not allowed in reviews)
You can see the tour is a collection of disjointed topics, an attempt to give color to an otherwise boring walk & ride in a tunnel.
If you are planning a trip to learn more about the Erie Canal, I suggest taking the more informative $3 boat ride over the Aqueduct at the Camillus Erie Canal Park or visit the enlightening Canastota Canal Town Museum, both in the Syracuse area.
My husband and I went to Lockport a couple of years ago on a very hot summer day. We wanted to get out of the heat of the day and found out about the Lockport cave tour. We took the tour and found it to be a delightful and well-kept WNY secret. There is a boat ride through a small cavern with a very informative guide who provided a wonderful narrative of the cave and trip. We were most impressed with the tour and recommend it highly to anyone for an inexpensive afternoon. We also took a trip through the locks, which was fun too. We walked through some shops on near the locks and ate lunch while watching boats passing through the locks. What's not to like?
If you have problem walking, this isn't for you. The walk was long, but scenic, and the guide had a lot of information. If you take this tour on a hot day, you'll enjoy the cool temperatures of the underground hike and boat ride. Make sure you bring plenty drinking water! The children will probably enjoy the tour the most. It was nothing to write home about. Parking places was limited to street parking only, with plenty of tow zones. Believe me! This place is not worth the cost, of a car tow.
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