|Barge Canal Publication|
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New Publication Highlights History of Barge Canal
A Landscape Transformed: Lock 4 Canal Park documents the construction of Champlain Barge Canal Lock 4, and the alteration of the junction of the Hoosic and Hudson Rivers.
Lock 4 Canal Park, owned by the New York State Canal Corporation, is located in the Town of Schaghticoke, Rensselaer County, at Lock 4 of the Champlain division, where the Hoosic River enters the Hudson opposite Stillwater. Before the construction of the Lock in 1908-1912, three shale bluff islands existed at this confluence. The canal construction significantly altered the landscape, transforming two of these islands into part of the mainland. While the area is still highly scenic, the configuration and use of the land has changed markedly. Barge Canal records held by the New York State Archives are used to document these land changes and the canal construction process.
By the 1890s the canal system, dating from the opening of the famous Erie Canal in 1825, had become outdated and then Governor Theodore Roosevelt authorized a study, issued in 1900, which recommenced the construction of an entirely new modern canal system. This culminated in the construction and operation of the New York State Barge Canal System, which was completed in 1918. The Champlain Division of the Barge Canal begins in the Hudson River between Lansingburgh and Waterford and runs to Lake Champlain. It follows the entire western boundary of the Town of Schaghticoke. Champlain Division Locks 1, 2, 3 and 4 are located in this section of the Hudson.
The construction of Lock 4, opposite the Village of Stillwater, required major construction at the mouth of the Hoosic River, including two new dams, a major bridge and canal cut. Two islands became part of the mainland and old channels were filled in or became wetlands. The State acquired 91 acres of land, part of which later became Lock 4 Canal Park.
The park includes a picnic area, observation platform at the lock, a canoe launch, and short nature trails. The area is highly scenic, where shale bluffs overlook the Hoosic River raging over a series of rapids immediately before entering the Hudson. The park has been identified as a significant plant habitat, containing a wide diversity of species, including some state-listed rare plants.
The State Archives in Albany holds nearly 800 cubic feet of records relating to the Barge Canal development and construction. Reproducing and explaining maps, plans and photographs found in eight of these series of historic State records, archivist and R-TLC Director, Warren Broderick, brings the construction of this lock and section of canal to life.
Copies of this new publication are available for from the Rensselaer-Taconic Land Conservancy for $5.00 each, plus $2.00 sales tax and shipping per book.