Lock 60 Historic Site: Walk through an Erie Canal Lock Chamber

The west bound lock chamber at the Lock 60 Historic Site between Macedon and Palmyra, New York

The west bound lock chamber at the Lock 60 Historic Site

Through the little town of Macedon, NY runs the reconstructed Erie Canal.  The canal is mostly for pleasure crafts these days, paid for by your New York Thruway (I-90) tolls.  The canal path is also well-used by cyclists (that would be me), runners, hikers, and even dog sleds in winter (if you believe the stories of some friends with a husky).  Last summer, while biking the path, I stumbled across one of the original locks – Lock 60 from the Enlarged Erie Canal, which came after the original “Clinton’s Ditch” and before the current canal.

The eastbound lock at the Lock 60 Historic Site between Macedon and Palmyra, New York

The eastbound lock

The lock has gone through some modifications over the years – originally designated as Lock #71 in the original Erie Canal in 1821, it became Lock 60 when the canal was enlarged 20 years later.  In 1874, the lock was doubled (from one way to two side-by-side locks), and then it was lengthened in 1888.  The lock was shut down in 1914, when the current canal was constructed.

Rough hewn stones of the lock chamber walls at Lock 60 Historic Site between Macedon and Palmyra, New York

Rough hewn stones of the lock chamber walls

Today all that remains are the lock chambers, grassy and a little overgrown, with small plants and flowers growing between the stones.  Nearby, the original canalway “ditch” is visible (although it’s small enough that I wonder if it was just part of the lock workings).  Really, it’s very well kept up, and it’s well worth a stop if you’re in the area.

Flowers grow between the stones atop the lock chamber, Lock 60 Historic Park between Macedon and Palmyra, New York

Flowers grow between the stones atop the lock chamber

Perhaps the coolest thing was that there really aren’t that many signs – a couple stating that this is Lock 60 Historic Park, and another couple with the history of the lock.  That’s about it.  There are no picnic tables, no restroom, and, best of all, no signs telling you in no uncertain terms to keep off and stay back.

Eastbound lock chamber at the Lock 60 Historic Park between Macedon and Palmyra, New York

Eastbound lock chamber

So we climbed all over it, enthralled by the massive stones and the flowers blooming between slabs, deducing what each odd stone part was used for, and generally enjoying the peace and quiet (we nearly didn’t see another soul – a couple came along after a bit, but that was it).

Part of the old lock workings - maybe it helped with the opening and closing of the lock gates? Lock 60 Historic Site near Macedon and Palmyra, New York

Part of the old lock workings – maybe it helped with the opening and closing of the lock gates?

Overall?  Probably not worth driving a whole lot out of your way for (unless you’re a real canal buff), but if you’re in the area, stop by!  Five minutes, and you can walk around and inside the old lock chambers, and with 15 or 20 minutes you can explore in depth.

Flowers growing up between the stones at Lock 60 Historic Park near Macedon and Palmyra, New York

Flowers growing up between the stones

Round Trip Trail Length: Varies.  You’ll need to walk from the parking area to the lock chambers, so make that at least 500ft. each way.

Net Elevation Change: About 10 ft.

Facilities: None

Fees: None

Trail Notes: You can’t access this from the current canal path (more’s the pity) because the path is on the other side of the current canal from Lock 60 Historic Site.  To access from the canal path, at O’Neil Road, head north a short distance (if you’re coming from the east you’ll have to cross the bridge – you’d have to do that anyway to pick up the path on the north side of the canal), then turn right on Quaker Road 0.4 miles to the unassuming dirt parking area on the south (canal) side of the road with the little sign for Lock 60 Historic Site.

The sign indicating the Lock 60 Historic Park near Macedon and Palmyra, New York

The sign indicating the Lock 60 Historic Park

Trail ★★☆☆☆

Road ★★★★☆

Signs ★★★☆☆

Scenery ★★★☆☆

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★★☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Lone plant in the wall of Lock 60 at the Lock 60 Historic Park near Macedon and Palmyra, New York

Lone plant in the wall

Key GPS Coordinates for the Lock 60 Historic Site

Parking Area: 43.07006N / -077.28162W (43° 4′ 12.2154″ / -77° 16′ 53.832″) 493ft.

Walking through the west-bound lock chamber at Lock 60 Historic Site near Macedon and Palmyra, New York

Walking through the west-bound lock chamber

Getting to the Lock 60 Historic Site

From Macedon (junction of Rt-31 and Rt-31F), drive east on Rt-31 (W Main Street).  After 0.4 miles, turn left onto O’Neil Road for 0.1 miles (you’ll cross the canal) and then turn right on Quaker Road.  After another 0.4 miles, the parking area with an unassuming sign for Lock 60 Historic Site will be on right.

Dandelion in a copse of other wildflowers at Lock 60 Historic Park near Macedon and Palmyra, New York

Dandelion in a copse of other wildflowers

From Palmyra (junction of W Main Street and Canandaigua Street/Church Street aka the junction of Rt-31 and Rt-210), drive north on Church Street (Rt-210) 0.4 miles.  After crossing the canal, turn left onto Quaker Road.  After 2.7 miles, the unassuming parking area will be on left with a sign for Lock 60 Historic Site.

Nearby ditch that was once part of the Erie Canal System near Lock 60 Historic Park near Macedon and Palmyra, New York

Nearby ditch that was once part of the canal system

If you’re coming from I-90, take Exit 43 towards Manchester and Palmyra.  Drive north on Rt-21 6.2 miles to the center of the town of Palmyra; take the directions (above) to the park – you’ll go straight at the intersection with Rt-31, then cross the canal and turn left onto Quaker Road.

Westbound exit back into the Erie Canal at the Lock 60 Historic Site near Macedon and Palmyra, New York

Westbound exit back into the canal

This Week’s Featured Product!

If bicycling along the Erie Canal is on your list of things to do, consider checking out this guide with maps of the trail and suggestions on places to stay and eat.

 

 

 

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