We moved here in 2000. That’s 16 years ago this summer. It was probably the following summer that I really began exploring the valley with my camera … and discovered the canal and its locks.

The spillway where the water divides. The river is to the right and the canal, straight ahead.

Spillway where the river divides. The river goes right, the canal, straight.

The Blackstone Canal was built in the mid 1800s and was used by barges for just about a decade before being replaced by trains. The canal still winds its way along the river. Sometimes, it is the river. Other places, it splits off and runs alongside it. Uxbridge is one of the places where it separates. It’s also one of the places which has locks to raise and lower water levels. Rather like an elevator for boats and barges.


The gears used to operate the locks at Uxbridge remain. Big, iron, and until recently, maintained in working order. For the past few years, no one has bothered to care for them. Probably a budgetary decision, but it’s a pity. How much did it cost to annually clean and oil the mechanisms? I’m sure it couldn’t be so much money the town can’t sustain the expense.

72-BW-Noir-Gears-Locks-Canal-082216_01Meanwhile, I’m still trying to get good pictures of the gears. These are the best (and most recent) photographs. I’m not entirely happy with them, but they’re the best I’ve done to date.


Who’d have thought that so many years later, I’d still be hoping to get my first really good shots of the locks? If these don’t qualify as oddballs, I don’t know what does.



There’s a mystery in that locked room.

Help me, I’m locked in!

Help me, I’m locked out!

My rifle is locked and loaded.

Red Ryder BB gun

Call the locksmith, the lock is jammed. Again.

I can’t get into the car, the lock is frozen.

Hey, I’ve got a lock on it! (I’ve put in my bid and I’m sure I’ll win  … )

Locks and keys and why would anyone want to break in here? We don’t own anything worth stealing?


It takes forever to get down the canal. You have to wait for each of the locks to fill and open.

There’s a freedom that comes with poverty. If you’re an up and coming burglar or thief, you’ll have to go where the real money is. You don’t want our rags, tatters, and memorabilia. Even the art, the most valuable of our possessions is only worth something to a collector. Pretty hard to fence relatively unknown artists …

I saved a lock of his baby hair. I keep it in a gold locket.

Bagels and lox, anyone?

I’m not bothering to lock the computers. No one uses them but us.


“Put a lock on it! I’m tired of hearing you run your mouth,” she said, storming out of the room.

“That’s a lock!” shouted the director. “Let’s go home, folks.”



I don’t know why, but I’ve had the hardest time getting a picture of the locks on the canal with which I’m satisfied. I’m not there yet, but the locks are interesting.

Canal Locks

These powerful gears date back to the mid 1800s when the canal was built and they are still in working order today. This is one of two, exactly the same. They usually aren’t in my pictures of this part of the canal because I shoot to either side of them.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus – Tall, high and far away