Special Locations and points of interest

The Canal Lock-keepers House                         rev  9/20/2013 

 3908 Whitney Ave , Hamden, CT    house is adjacent to the trail

Google maps link:  http://goo.gl/maps/ioq65

In the early 1800’s, the Farmington Canal was built between Northampton, Mass and New Haven CT, opening for use in 1835.  Irish immigrants dug the canal by hand.

The canal locks controlled the flow of the water to compensate for the slope of the land, which rises gently from south to north. There were 28 locks along the Farmington Canal. In some places, farmers living nearby would answer the barge captain’s horn, coming to maneuver the locks. In other locations like this one in northern Hamden, a lockkeeper lived next to the lock to perform that function.  This house was built adjacent to one such lock, Lock 14. The remains of the lock can be seen in the ditch next to the paved trail. The terrain dropped steeply to the south after Lock 14, which is why half the locks in the state were in the last 9 miles.

Flat-bottomed boats were pulled by mules walking alongside the canal. The barges carried goods and passengers between ports. A trip from New Haven to Cheshire cost 62 cents, and took nearly 5 hours.

It has been reported that in 1839, the Amistad slaves were transported on the canal from the New Haven prison to Farmington. Horsecarts then carried them to the courthouse in Hartford for trial.

The canal operated from 1828 to 1848. Then the canal was converted to a railroad.  The railroad bed was often built on top of the mule path, and in the 1980’s that track bed became the paved trail you see today.  


There is another such lock (Lock 12) and house on the trail north of here in southern Cheshire. Lock 12 is the only restored lock remaining today.

(text adapted from a plaque at Lock 12, composed by local elementary school students)



Contact Us

The Farmington Canal Rail-To-Trail Association
940 Whitney Avenue, Hamden, CT-06517

4Biz Group