Well into adulthood, he made a startling discovery about his hometown, “that Lockport’s landscape contained a mystery,” he notes in his study, subtitled “Lockport, the Erie Canal, and the Shaping of America.” McGreevy was stunned to learn of a 40-foot “waterfall” on the city’s western edge.
“I thought I had explored every square inch of the town’s landscape: How could there be a waterfall I had never seen nor heard any mention of by hundreds of local acquaintances?”
Yes, there’s a hidden waterfall, that he calls a “natural spectacle,” and McGreevy has the pictures to prove it, which helped compel him to “to begin a scholarly investigation.” He tells us, for instance, that for “the largely immigrant common laborers who made up the bulk of the canal construction force, the market revolution was a brutal reality within which they had little leverage or hope.”
Connoisseurs of geography, cartophiles, wanderers, and romantics will appreciate the anecdote. When it comes to such stories, the Rust Belt is king. The parochial landscape doesn't give up its secrets easily. Imagine all the intrigue of Vermont wrapped up in a small Western New York city. Yeah, the entire state and I would know. I still have logs of the best unknown swimming holes and sledding ("sliding" in Vermont) hills.
My fascination with America's Urban Frontier is more than a birthplace in Erie and a childhood in Upstate New York. I love exploring, weekend road trips. I'm intimate with just about every part of the United States and you can't beat the Postindustrial Heartland for adventure. Getting to know Pittsburgh is daunting. That's the attraction. So, I greatly enjoy reading about a regional expert surprised by the existence of a 40-foot waterfall on the outskirts of town.