Buffalo Maritime Center and the Lockport Locks Heritage District Board are planning to build a replica canal boat for use in the restored Lockport Flight of Five Locks in Lockport, New York. The boat will be a 42-foot replica of an authentic Durham Boat of the type that was in use on the Mohawk River corridor prior to the opening of the Erie Canal and were the first boats in use on the canal when it opened in 1825.
Durham Boats were river boats commonly in use on New York State waterways including the Mohawk, Genesee and Niagara Rivers primarily during the pre-canal era, about 1795 to 1825. They were human-powered freight boats that were poled or rowed and occasionally sailed, carrying cargo and passengers across New York State at a time when the road system was primitive or non-existent. When the first section of the Erie Canal was opened to traffic in 1819, the Durham Boats were first on the canal, abandoning oars and setting poles for towline and mule team.
This will be a community boat building project. Construction will take place at the BMC boat shop at 90 Arthur Street in the Black Rock section of Buffalo beginning this Fall, and hopefully completed in time for the July 4th, 2017 anniversary of the start of construction of the Erie Canal. Anyone interested in participating in the project can contact BMC at 881-0111, info@BuffaloMaritimeCenter.org or stop in the shop during regular business hours.