Monday, October 26, 2009

Weird Tale in Lockport

Saturday as I was wandering about in Lockport I saw a sign for some caves and decided to at least go by and check it out, little knowing that they would be mentioned in Sunday's newspaper. Apparently I was moving too slow for the tailgater behind me, so I sped up a bit and soon found myself making a snap decision to turn right, and then turn right again into a gravel lot.

The sign said I was at Ceramics Plaza and Gooding Street. Ceramics Plaza does not come up on any Google search engine, but there I was. Hmm.

It's across Gooding street from an old electric company.

Anyway, I looked up a long driveway off the back of the lot and saw an old factory up ahead. Being ahead of schedule, I decided to drive up it and explore a bit. After the driveway ended I got out and walked up a path and over some railroad tracks that went over Gooding Street that had dipped down to my right.

It was an old factory or warehouse, which I found interesting enough to take a few pictures of.

Now comes the strange stuff...After I left I went to my mom's and told her about my expedition. She sat up straight and said that it sounded like the place that Harbison Brothers used to store barrels maybe 10-15 20-25 years ago (not possible it was the shorter span of time). My parents had gone there with my dad's cousin Bobby and wife. She said there was talk of selling the building to someone who was going to build a plaza (see sign above).

Mom remembered looking out a 3rd story window, where down below Walter Kohl had a motorcycle shop in the same building. She's not into motorcycles, but remembered the name because his brother* father Ernest married a Muggelberg, who is a distant cousin on the...well, you know how these conversations can get sidetracked.

There were some motorcycle seats lying next to the building too, behind an old cart.

We still weren't sure if it was the same place, but upon arriving home I did a closeup on a Google map and there was the motorcycle shop, looking like it's in Upson Park! No mention of the building itself though.

So how weird is it, that of all the places I could have explored in Lockport, I pick one with a bit of family history that I had never heard before? Eerie.

And I still don't know anything about the building. Does anyone know where I was? Well, I know where I was, but I don't. Anyone?

Just don't tell me it doesn't exist anymore...I have pictures!

* change per genealogy records.


DocWu said...

I don't know the exact name of the building. There used to be more there.

You were indeed above what is called the Lockport Cave Raceway Tours, which are really not caves at all, but the raceways that were used to divert water from the canal to produce power - mostly mechanical, big pulleys and belts - from the water.

A number of industries were located there to make use of the hydro power. The best-known was the Holly Manufacturing Co. founded by Birdsall Holly.

There is more information on Holly at

The entrance to the raceway tours are in Upson Park and below the gravel lot you were in. A flight of wooden stairs leads down to it. But the office where you sign up for the tours I believe is in Old City Hall, on Pine Street, next to the locks.

Susanne said...

The weirdness continues...I currently live in the Boise, Idaho area, but I grew up in Clarence. My dad, who used to race motorcycles, was close friends with Walter Kohl. I remember going to his place when it was off of Transit Rd, not too far from where Millersport Hwy intersects Transit Rd. It was right next to a creek or canal. I couldn't have been much more than 5 years old, but I do remember his wife too, I think her name was Anne. We had other friends in Lockport too, the Herman family. Carl and his 3 sons, Don, Fred and Clair. They lived on South Transit Rd, past that old factory where they were dumping really nasty chemicals into the creek. I can still remember the strong chlorine smell.

Odd things to remember, eh!