The Lamp Lighter

By Edwin T. Sheldon

I was born in 1941 at 25 Francis Street. I spent the first 25 years of my life there.

I have been reading over the information on the Erie Barge Canal but there was no information on the old Lamp Lighter.

I remember that in the 1940s, there was a small tugboat parked at the old Basket Factory pond that was used to fill the old kerosene lamps along the canal.

As young boys, my brother, Robert, and I would go there from school to fish. The man who ran the tugboat would let us ride up and down the canal with him while he filled the lamps.

I do not recall the man’s name but he worked for the State of New York, and the tugboat was painted in the State’s colors. They phased out the kerosene lamps later on.

Editor’s Note: In the Village’s Centennial book published in 1959, there it is noted that on April 1, 1875, “village lamp-lighter (Van Spalding)to be paid at the rate of 12 ½ cents per lamp per week.” And also noted on May 21, 1883, “lamp lighter Charles Armstrong instructed to get his instructions from Trustee Linus Freeman as to lighting lamps on doubtful nights.”

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