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The Little Falls Canal - 1795

Rebuilding the Guard Lock - c. 1940


It is obvious that the guard lock as it exists today is not an intact expression of the way it had been rebuilt of stone in 1802, as seen in photographs from the 1890s. Clearly the cap stones had been removed, the quoin post recess for the southern guard gate was gone, and it appeared that the "original" masonry now visible had been reworked.

The following photographs, recently found in the Madden Collection of the Canal Society of New York State, and used here with their permission, reveal some of the process by which this work was accomplished, apparently at about the year 1940.

1920s photo of lock
Original condition circa 1920.

Click on picture for full-size view.
  1940s photo This is a very informative view, for it shows the 1802 stonework still more or less as it was in the 1890s (above). The stonework is obviously in a terrible state, propped with timbers against impending collapse. Due to the camera angle, one can see the quoins for the lock gate pivots on both the north and south walls of the lock. It appears that the railroad (left) has recapped the wall with concrete, but one can see the original lock stonework beneath, apparently just mortared over at some point.
  1940s photo In this view we see the process of rebuilding the north wall underway. Workmen have taken out the timber supports and have pulled all the original stone into the lock bottom, using it to reconstruct the north wall, now partially completed. From this angle it appears that the part of the wall beneath the railroad's concrete cap has been either rebuilt in concrete or refaced.
  1940s photo Here we see that concrete work from a better angle, and it appears that a new wall face was poured where the old stonework had been exposed previously. From the photograph it looks like a thick new concrete face was put over the original stonework, as it stands out from the old wall about 6 inches or so.
  1940s photo In this view we see the entire north wall (left) reconstruction completed and the most of the loose stone rubble removed from the lock. There are no capstones in evidence, and these were apparently taken away at this time. While this is original 1802 lock stone, the wall is a completely new one. It also appears that the workman have begun to rebuild the south wall (look closely at the angle of the wall and the work area).
  1940s photo In this view one can see the deteriorated condition of the quoin of the south wall of the lock. Clearly with collapse occurring from the bottom of the wall, repair would require rebuilding rather than patching.
  1940s photo In this final view, we see the condition of the south wall at the quoin. While these views do not show extensive work being done on the south wall, field evidence today shows that this quoin has been rebuilt to eliminate the curved recess for the lock gate pivot, the capstones are all gone, and the damaged lower portion of the wall replaced. It appears that most of the south wall was rebuilt as the north wall was. A comparison of the stone sequences shown here with the modern remains could confirm that.
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