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Historian says Holley isn’t only place with original section of Erie Canal west of Rochester

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 January 2020 at 3:27 pm

Small section of first canal also can be seen in Lockport

Provided: Craig Bacon, deputy historian for Niagara County, sent the Orleans Hub this section of a survey from 1868 showing where this is a small section of the original Erie Canal remaining in Lockport. This survey shows the then-current path of the canal as well as the outlines of the original canal.

Orleans Hub received an email today from Craig Bacon, the deputy Historian for Niagara County.

Bacon read the report last week in the Orleans Hub about the efforts to clear about 2,000 feet of the original Erie Canal loop in Holley. (Click here to see “Excavators put to work in clearing out old canal loop in Holley.) That section is clogged with trees and heavy brush.

Holley has a historical marker proclaiming this as the last remaining original loop of the Erie Canal. The original canal, completed in 1825, was later enlarged several times, with the last expansion from 1905 to 1918.

In Holley, the canal used to veer sharply to near the Public Square.  The canal would later be straightened near Bennetts Corners Road. However, some of the original section would remain and wasn’t filled in.

Turns out, this isn’t the only original piece of the canal, according to Bacon.

“I have seen this claim many times, and wondered about it,” Bacon wrote in an email. “I can tell you, with near absolute certainty, that this claim is incorrect.”

Provided photo: Craig Bacon also sent in this photo showing what looks like a farm lane next to the Synder family farm in Lockport. This is actually part of the original Erie Canal at the intersection of Harrington Road and North Canal Road.

There is another original part of the Erie Canal in the Town of Lockport, at the intersection of Harrington Road and North Canal Road, very near the border with the Town of Royalton.

“What is seemingly a ditch along a farm lane next to the Snyder Family Farm is actually part of the 1825 canal,” Bacon said.

He has studied maps of land records to verify this claim. He sent the Orleans Hub a recent picture of the area as well as an 1868 survey of the Enlarged Canal.

“From this map, it is very obvious that this ditch is actually the old canal,” he said. “The red dot shows approximately from where the new photo was taken, with the arrow showing the direction.”

Bacon said he is “an Erie Canal aficionado” and appreciates canal’s importance to the state and county.

“I find these hidden gems so fascinating,” he said about the original pieces in Holley and Lockport. “It is very amazing that these almost forgotten pieces of the canal are finally getting the respect they deserve. After all, the Erie Canal transformed New York into the Empire State.”

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