This image popped up on my screen-saver slide-show just now. I'd put the photos we took during our summer of '18 peregrinations with Cousin Elaine on to 'cycle.'
The wall has a medieval feel - the efflorescence on the concrete creates an ancient effect that belies its mere 120 years of existence. And those arched openings with the grills - so evocative.
And then this monumental entrance, hidden in the shadows. A heavy cornice, blind round-headed door topped by hood mould with bosses, applied to a slanting monolith looming above? Whassis? Entrance to a mausoleum? Sheltering bank and trees lend the spot an air of the sacred.
What we're looking at is an "engineering achievement of national and international renown" according to Parks Canada.
|beauty and function|
This is, of course, the breath-taking Peterborough Lift Lock National Historic Site. The lock was completed in 1904, built of steel and concrete, built by men who worked with shovels, and operated horse-drawn equipment.
Logging which continued in the north country, and ongoing fears of American expansionism spurred its development; the growth of post WWII recreational boating kept it going.
|Courtesy Trent Valley Archives|
These historic photos were taken on opening day in 1904. The Historic Places account tries to capture the wonder felt by this neatly turned out crowd: "When completed in 1904 it was the highest hydraulic lift lock ever built with a vertical lift of nearly 20 meters (65 feet) and was reputed to be the largest unreinforced concrete structure in the world."
|photo used with permission. Credit: Trent Valley Archives|
The website PTBO contains several more archival photos, and '15 neat facts about the construction of the Peterborough Lift Lock.' Neat. Do visit.
|See the boaters peeking out from the upper chamber?|
The structure itself, with "towers, caisson pits, breastworks, two chambers and mechanical works" both visible and invisible, and the lock's operation, I leave to those who know and love things mechanical. Follow the links in this post to get the facts.
I'm here for the aesthetics, folks. Like the park-like topography created by the construction of this marvel, which seems so serene, giving not a hint of the huge raw site of earth and water-moving this would once have been.
And like the other 'character-defining elements' including the ornamental railings and the interior finishings of the lockmaster's cabin - expect we have to take their word for it, as I doubt the tiny white tower room would be accessible to visitors (and the lockmaster's job might be one requiring intense concentration.)
|the lock-master in his flag-topped cabin..|
|lowers them gently down..|
|touch-down, and down to Ashburnham|
For your further enjoyment of this amazing place, here's the Ontario heritage plaque and a somewhat silly Hallowe'en video (suggest you turn the sound off) which nevertheless takes one on a rare visit inside the structure.
And thanks to Jimbo Wales, here's a history of the Trent Severn waterway. Not an easy job, it wasn't.
(all quotes from Historic Places.ca)
And finally: almost as good as being there. Here's a YouTube video that takes us through the locks. Gloriously uncrowded. It gets exciting at about the 11 minute mark.