"Low bridge everybody down, low bridge 'cause we're coming to a town. Yes, you'll always know your neighbor, you'll always know your pal if you ever navigated on the Erie Canal."  Maybe it's because I grew up in the Tonawandas not far from the Erie Canal, but I learned the words to that song when I was a kid and it's stayed with me all of these years.

Proposed, discussed and argued about for more than 30 years, construction of the Erie Canal began in 1817 and took more than four years to build.  When it was completed it became the country's first inland water route between the Atlantic Ocean at New York City and the Great Lakes at Buffalo.  It also established Buffalo as one of the most important inland ports in the world leading to the growth of the western United States.

One of the marvels of the Erie Canal is the engineering concepts that allowed ships and barges to travel across New York State and the 565 feet in elevation between the Hudson River on the eastern end and Buffalo at the western end.  How they did it was thru a series of 35 locks that would raise and lower vessels.  Five of those locks were in Lockport, giving the town its name.

So we went to Lockport to visit with John McKee who is the master lock keeper and had answers to many of the questions we had.  He not only loves his job, but he's a wealth of information about the history of the canal.