Destination NY: Lockport Caves

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LOCKPORT, NY – 70 feet below the streets in Lockport, in 4 to 7 feet of water, this group travels by boat through a cave system, adjacent to the Erie Canal.

Buy why does this place exist? And who built it?

Well, let’s go back more than 150 years ago to 1859.

That was the year Birdshill Holly founded the Holly Manufacturing Company.

He was born in Seneca Falls but moved to Lockport as an adult to start his career.

“Over 150 inventions, only rivaled at the time by Thomas Edison and his biggest, probably most important invention was probably the rotary pump,” says Tom Callahan, Lockport Cave co-owner.

Holly painted an improved fire hydrant in Lockport, he also made the sewing machines here, and more.

They’re inventions that may have never existed without this cave.

Holly needed a way to power his industries and came up with the idea of using excess water that was being bypassed from the Erie Canal.

So, he blasted out solid rock to form a hydraulic tunnel that produced mechanical power.

Today, there is a plumbing system that keeps the water low enough to tour it by boat.

“On the boat ride, they see original mining shafts that were used when the tunnel was blasted, water shafts, where the city of Lockport actually took its water for fire protection, geologic formations and the abutments where the tunnel actually began.”

The boat glides through the water using an electric motor that can’t be heard.

When our camera lights are turned off, small lights and a single flashlight help guide guests beginning to end.

The ride lasts about 15 minutes.

It’s the final part of a visitor’s tour here.

Before this people will learn how boats travel through the Erie Canal locks system.

The unique story behind the generation of power here in Lockport and more.

In a couple weeks, the Niagara Zipper will open for the season as well.

Thrill seekers can ride back and forth on the zipline that’s 85 feet above the canal.

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