The Erie Canal Museum houses the last remaining of seven weighing stations on the Erie Canal. The Weighlock Building was originally used for the collection of tolls and inspection of boats and barges on the Erie Canal. On the north side of the building, the piers formed a portico around the lock. Boats and barges rested on a scale when the water was drained from the locks; a toll was levied accordingly. The low-pitched pedimented roof and heavy supporting piers are characteristic of Greek Revival architecture. Tolls were abolished in 1883, but skippers continued to use the locks as a dry dock for emergency repairs.
In later years, the lock was enclosed and eventually the canal was filled in and is now Erie Boulevard. The building is now home to the Erie Canal Museum, which houses one of the few collections in the U.S. devoted solely to canal history. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Erie Canal Weighlock Building that now houses the Erie Canal Museum almost fell victim to the wrecking ball in the late 1950s. When the district office for the NYS Dept of Public Works moved into the new NYS Office Building in 1957, the state contemplated razing the century-old historic edifice to make room for a highway interchange at the site. As early as 1945, members of the Onondaga Historical Association recognized the possible threat to the building and took steps to prevent its destruction. OHA started a campaign to preserve the building as a monument to one of the greatest construction projects in NYS, dubbed Clinton’s Ditch. Along with OHA’s preservation campaign, others voiced their concern about losing the building and pushed to convert it into a museum devoted to interpreting the Erie Canal, including NYS legislators and the notable author, Samuel Hopkins Adams, who wrote a book on the Erie Canal. In 1960 NYS gave the building to Onondaga County to create a museum showcasing New York’s canal system.