Saturday, May 14, 2016

Joel Beyer Awarded 2016 Key to the Locks

Traditionally, at least at the Erie Canal Discovery Center, the kickoff to the new Erie Canal navigation season lands on the first Saturday in May. It is on that day the Key to the Locks is awarded to for the year. The Key to the Locks Award was developed in 2006 to commemorate the twinning of the cities of Lockport and Thorold, Ontario. From 2007 onwards, the award was given to recognize Niagara County residents who exemplify community spirit and promote the heritage of the Erie Canal.
Joel Beyer is presented with the Key to the Locks

Joel Beyer, the 2016 recipient of the award, was hired in 1974 by the New York State Canal Corporation. Since 1979, he served as lockmaster of Locks 34 and 35 since 1979. He retired earlier this year after a long and rewarding career. Mayor Anne McCaffrey presented him with the award.

Each summer, aside from simply allowing boats the traverse up or down the escarpment at Lockport, Beyer also taught school groups, tourists, and even local residents how the lock system works. He was also involved in the beautification of the locks area and the restoration of the Flight of Five.

Previous recipients, Becky Burns and Jeff Degnan celebrate
the 2016 Key to the Locks ceremony with Mayor McCaffrey
and 2016 recipient, Joel Beyer.
“There have been times I’ve cycled the locks without a boat in them just to show the groups of people how the locks work,” Beyer stated in his acceptance speech. “It was definitely a highlight to meet all the different people I have over the years.”

Entertainment before and after the event on May 7th, at the Erie Canal Discovery Center was provided by The Heenan Brothers.