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Troy Lock And Dam Celebrates 100 Years

The Troy Lock and Dam opened in 1916. Laborers who built the Panama Canal were contracted to build the dam designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Colonel David Caldwell, commander of the Corps’ New York District, was dressed in full uniform at the ceremony beside the lock.

“Troy Lock and Dam is just a phenomenal facility, but really what it marks is all the years of development and commerce and taking care of the local communities and the taxpayer throughout the century,” said Caldwell.

Inside the lock, the water is raised or lowered to allow boats to pass through. It acts as the eastern gateway to New York’s waterways.

“When the Lock and Dam was really in its heyday, probably 50 years ago, there was a lot more commerce.   We’re seeing that pick up now and we’re excited about that. But we also see quite a few recreation craft that come through,” said Caldwell.

Beside the facility, owned by the federal government, is the hydroelectric plant built by Henry Ford in 1920, which at the time, required special permission from Congress. Today, the electric dam is owned by the Green Island Power Authority and provides electricity to the community on the other side of the river.

Brian Stratton, Director of the New York State Canal Corporation, says the Lock and Dam, combined with the canal system, supports billions of dollars in economic activity in upstate New York.

“Hydropower, commercial navigation, irrigation for farms, drinking water, quarrying, mining is absolutely huge. And that’s statewide. So nearly $400 million in tourism spending and nearly $6.3 billion economic impact for non-tourism uses,” said Stratton.

The Lock and Dam is also an important resource for the City of Troy. Businesses benefit from the visitors coming upriver or down from Canada.

Deputy Mayor Monica Kurzejeski says the city will continue working with the Army Corps of Engineers to make Troy a better place to live and work.

“It’s really important not only to drive our economy, but also for the aesthetic view of the city. And we look forward to working with them as we continue to improve our waterfront, expand parkways, be able to make connections and access along the waterways, so I think it’s a great opportunity for a great partnership at the federal, state, and local level,” said Kurzejeski.

The Corps is also working to improve the facility. Beginning next year, four new miter gates will be built and installed into the navigation lock.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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