Genesee Valley Canal Locks

Although construction had begun on the Genessee Valley Canal in 1837 at the northern end the opening of the entire length took several more years. In 1840, 36 miles of the span opened to Mount Morris on September 1.Then with the Albany political leadership change in the 1840s there was a stop of construction for a period of years. The Genesee Valley Canal was constructed to connect Rochester with Olean, the start of the Allegheny River and therefore make a huge passageway leading all the way down to Pittsburgh and to the Erie Canal.

The first canal boat crossed into Cattaraugus County through the Hinsdale lock in 1856.  These locks were made out of stone, uncommon for the era as most locks were made with a combination of wood, composite and stone.  By lowering and raising the water level, this would enable the boats to have smooth passage down the canal.  Often times, during construction, small towns would appear around the locks. 

The opening of the entire length of the Genesee Valley Canal to Olean was not until 1858, and then total completion of the 117 mile waterway occurred in 1862.  The Genesee River Canal provided the primary route of transportation from Cattaraugus County (the Allegany River) to the Erie Canal for about 20 years. During that time many people and goods (such as lumber, food, leather) from our area were sent up the waterway. 

The end of the Genesee Canal was not embraced by all. For many businessmen it was the end of a sensible route of transportation.However, the extremely high cost of construction and maintenance, coupled with lengthy delays and the entrance of the railroad into Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties all contributed to the decision of the State Legislature to close the canal after only about two decades of use of the completed waterway.



Rt. 16
3701 Main St.
Hinsdale, NY 14743

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