Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Locks at Lockport, New York

The message reads:
Your letter received yesterday. Will get you a job if I can. Andrew June 25, '09.

Lockport, New York is located about 18 miles from Niagara Falls. The locks at Lockport originally consisted of five locks on the Erie Canal, as shown above, built in the first half of the 19th century to try to overcome the difficulties of running barges up the 60-foot rise of the Niagara escarpment. At the time this postcard was sent, work was starting on reconstructing the locks. The message on the card probably refers to that work.

General Marquise de LaFayette declared the original locks to be one of the greatest engineering feats in the world. A new, wider set of canal locks opened in 1919. To view a fascinating history and images of the construction, click here.

When I think of Lockport, I think of its significance for shipping on the Erie Canal. I don't immediately think of the author, Joyce Carol Oates, but that's where she's from. I just finished reading her novel, Wonderland, which is set in Lockport and surrounding areas of New York. The blue tinting on the postcard would be totally appropriate for mood of this novel.The Smithsonian magazine recently featured an article by Oates about Lockport, which I highly recommend. The article gave me an entirely different perspective of the town, along with a sense of indebtedness.


  1. I look at your postcards every day and enjoy looking at them so much. I love to read the personal messages on the backs and wonder about those folks and whatever happened to them. Thanks for sharing them. I know your posts are read by many that feel as I do.

  2. I'm off to read the Smithsonian article you mention. Thanks for another informative post! (You didn't say if you liked Wonderland . . .?)

  3. There were many things I liked about Wonderland. I love the way Oates writes in general. The story is grim and somewhat bizarre though, even with a reworked ending.



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