The towboat “Calusa Coast” picked a glorious day to usher
the “Delaware” on her maiden voyage through the Black Rock Lock April 20th.
This was a day for firsts, as this was also the first barge of the 2016
shipping season for the centenarian Black Rock Lock, Buffalo NY.
The barge, constructed in 2006, glided perfectly into place
within the walls of the Black Rock Lock. With only about five feet of space on
either side of massive vessel, it looked like the barge and lock were built for
each other. The Delaware’s youth is confirmed by her blemish-free, shiny black
The Lock Wall team, led by Lockmaster Tom Braunscheidel,
operated as a well-oiled machine to ensure the vessel and towboat passed safely
and successfully through the lock on their way back to Michigan. The barge had
loaded out of Detroit, MI and delivered liquid asphalt to Suit-Kote (The old
Marathon Terminal). The next trip is to Hamilton, Ont. The barge will likely
pass through the Black Rock Lock six more times this season.
The barge remained in Black Rock Lock for about 20 minutes
before moving onward through to the Black Rock Channel, which is about three
and a half miles in length. The Lock and Channel were constructed to provide
protection from reefs, rapids, and fast currents in the upstream Niagara River.
The Lock has been operating since 1908 to allow vessels to carry essential
goods and services to business and industry.
Despite the advanced age of the Lock, the facility
functioned as smoothly and efficiently as any modern state-of-the-art
operation. This achievement is a testament to the operations and maintenance
efforts of the Lock Wall Crew and the NY/PA Operations and Maintenance Office,
which keep the Black Rock Lock in service and benefitting the shipping