A few weeks ago I noticed a 6″ diameter hole had suddenly appeared in the pavement over the culvert which the stream from the school flows into the canal. It’s on canal property, so I notified the Canal Authority and they sent out a truck to put some ‘cones’ up and a barrier to prevent vehicles and people having a mishap.
A few days later I looked under the cone which had been strategically placed over the hole, and discovered the hole had grown in size. The metal culvert pipe had corroded through, and the flow of water had washed out all the soil above. Overall the hole is about 6 feet deep and growing. Any vehicle traveling over this area would likely cause a collapse of the metal pipework. If anyone happened to fall down this, they’d be cut up pretty badly by the jagged metal pipes.
This is a small example of what can happen to a culvert. Fortunately, this isn’t underneath an embankment dam, but it does demonstrate the dilapidated state of the bridge. The surrounding concrete is a complete disaster, over half of the structure is missing, which is why the Canal Authority dumped a pile of small 6″ rock filler around the outlet. They washed out completely in the first storm, so they put in more of the same and once more it all washed away after another storm.
Finally, they brought in a truck load of rip-rap rocks, 2 feet diameter, and that has held. Unfortunately, it looks like they’re going to have to dig up the entire structure and replace the pipes.
If all the other culverts that are underneath embankment dams are in this condition, with even a small crack in concrete or corrosion in pipes, then we should all be very concerned because this sort of sinkhole could easily cause an embankment failure.
It’s Friday 12th January and it’s been thawing and raining today, with a fair amount of water flow occurring.
The hole has doubled in size over 24 hours.
Five days later, we now see that TWO pipes are rusted through!
Thanks to the hard work of my nextdoor neighbors, The VanStrydonks, we have a skating rink outside our back door. They’ve cleared away all the snow this morning, and there’s an ice hockey game going on right now.
I guess it’s a ‘public rink’ so anyone could use it, just walk down from Perinton Park for 5 minutes, and there’s an old dock where you could get down the embankment. If you don’t fancy that crossing, just knock on my door at 28 Erie Crescent, and you can walk across my back yard.
Bring a snow pusher to help keep it clean!
The canal is about 3 feet deep at this spot, so is fairly safe.
The Canal Authority recently issued a pamphlet outlining their project to clear up a few embankments and dams along sections of the canal.
You can read a copy here
However, on page 15 it looks like they have used the wrong photo as the one displayed shows an embankment failure, and as this photo shows, the bottom fell out of the canal, flooding the lower parts of Bushnell’s Basin.
You can read more about this here!
This is obviously not a dam or embankment breach, but the resulting flood damage was still the same. The north side of the canal has an embankment overlooking Marsh Rd.
As I’ve researched this, I found some wonderful old photos which I’d like to share.
I particularly like the trains that shunted along the embankments and dams ferrying material. If you look closely, you can see these wagons tipped up to dump the loads of rubble and soil.
Title: Construction scene, New York State Barge Canal [Fairport] [photograph]. Date: 1912-1918? Physical Details: 1 photograph : b&w ; 6 x 9 in. Collection: Perinton Municipal Historian collection Summary: A construction train hauling dirt from the canal bed in the village of Fairport during the building of the New York State Barge Canal System. This project widened the already existing Erie Canal, which ran through the village. Image Number: tpm00189
Title: Construction scene, Main Street Bridge [Fairport] [photograph]. Date: 1913 Physical Details: 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in. Collection: Perinton Municipal Historian collection Summary: Several Fairport men inspecting the temporary wooden bridge used during the construction of the Main Street Bridge, which was conpleted in 1914. A train is visible in the canal bed in the lower right corner. It was used to haul dirt out of the bed during the widening of the Erie Canal. This enlargement of the canal, during the state’s construction of the Barge Canal System, necessitated the erection of the new, longer Main Street Bridge in Fairport. This view looks northwest. Notes: “Bridges 81”. Image Number: tpm00092
Here’s a steam shovel digging around the Lift Bridge.
Title: Enlargement of Erie Canal [Fairport] [photograph]. Date: 1912-1914 Physical Details: 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in. Collection: Perinton Municipal Historian collection Summary: Onlookers watch the process of enlarging the Erie Canal in the village of Fairport. A large piece of machinery works from the canal bed to widen the south bank. Notes: “Barge Canal Operations Fairport, N.Y.” Image Number: tpm00254
More general photos of interest around Fairport and the canal.
Title: Canal scene in Perinton [photograph]. Date: ca. 1900 Physical Details: 1 photograph : b&w ; 3 x 5 in. Collection: Perinton Municipal Historian collection Summary: The Erie Canal in the Town of Perinton, with its towpath to the left. A man and a boy fish from a boat in the lower right corner of the image. Mill buildings are visible in the distance. Image Number: tpm00014
Title: Two boats, Erie Canal, Fairport [photograph]. Date: 1921 June 13 Physical Details: 1 photograph : b&w ; 3 x 6 in. Collection: Perinton Municipal Historian collection Summary: Looking west from the Main Street Bridge in the village of Fairport at 2 vessels traveling east along the Erie Canal section of the New York State Barge Canal System. The boat in front, named Lorraine, is from the Cowles Towing Line. The barge in the background is from Interwaterways Line Incorporated, barge no. 101. Notes: “I.L.I. Barge west from Main St., Fairport June 13, 1921. Image Number: tpm00192
This 19June 13, 1921 photo shows several tugs and a barge on the canal in Fairport village. The boat in front, named Lorraine, is from the Cowles Towing Line. The barge in the background is barge no. 101 from Interwaterways Line Incorporated. The cupola of the Fairport Municipal Building and lift bridge over the canal on Main Street also are visible.
Title: Construction, Main Street Bridge [photograph]. Photographer/Artist: Dept. of Pub. Works. Date: 1913 May 1 Physical Details: 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in. Collection: Perinton Municipal Historian collection Summary: Looking northwest at the construction site of the Main Street Bridge in Fairport. The new bowstring truss lift bridge was constructed between 1912-1914. The bridge spanned the Erie Canal and connected North Main Street to South Main Street. Notes: “No. 9543 Main St. Bridge Fairport Cont. 63 May 1, 1913”. Image Number: tpm00352
Channel in concrete trough, across Irondequoit valley — from: History of the Barge Canal of New York State / by Noble E. Whitford; supplement to the Annual report of the State Engineer and Surveyor for the year ended June 30, 1921 (Albany : J.B. Lyon Co., printers, 1922) — opposite p. 336
Barge Canal Contract no. 63 [Irondequoit Creek crossing] — from: Annual Report of the State Engineer and Surveyor of the State of New York for the fiscal year ended September 30, 1913 (Albany : J.B. Lyon Co., printers, 1914) — facing p. 292
More about the canal mishaps.
The Canal Authority has launched a program to clear-cut brush and trees from certain parts of the canal shoreline. The Oxbow section an important part of this project from a safety angle because of the numerous properties under the embankment.
Here are the maps of the Oxbow designated areas. You can see all 65 maps here
In these photos, note all the houses between the canal and Jefferson Rd. They are in potential danger if this dam is breached.
The Vegetation box line point looks exactly like where this ‘dam’ breached many years ago.
In this photo, note that the cottages are already around ‘the lake’ but there is no lake, because it’s already breached, hence the huge pile of rubble circled. Noting the size of the people on the dam, I’d estimate its overall height to be about forty feet. We know that the canal is at least twenty five feet deep here, and fresh water pressure is 0.43 psi per foot = 10 psi. That’s enough to bore a hole in an earthen dam.
Looking south now, you can see the electricity pylons and the remains of the washout rubble. I suspect this photo was taken after the breach was repaired.
Here are the objectives of The Canal Authority.
Canal embankments along elevated sections of the Erie Canal in Orleans and Monroe counties will be restored to their design condition by removing trees and brush at 56 locations covering about 145 acres. Their removal will restore the integrity of the embankments and improve the Canal Corporation’s ability to properly manage their condition, keeping the communities that surround the canal safe from potential flooding due to structural failures.
THIS FEMA MANUAL IS A MUST READ!
Tree Growth on and Adjacent to Dams
NYDEC Report on Trees on Dams and Embankments.
Canal Authority Deputy Director John Callaghan says ” It’s all about safety!” “Inspectors can’t see if there are any problems such as leaking or rotting from the canal.” Read more here.
I wondered why the canal had not been drained this year, and guess that it’s to do with this project. Perhaps they can spot leaks as they remove vegetation?
Check out this disaster and note the similarities!
Torrential rain soaked the Welsh Slag Heaps of Aberfan back in 1966. It became so wet, the entire mound slipped and buried 114 children at a school.
Here’s the Aberfan rubble, it looks very similar to the rubble that the dam-embankments of the Erie Canal are made of. If the dam wall gets too soggy this could happen in Fairport, and with the amount of water in the canal, the devastation could be ten times worse than Aberfan!
We even have a school right in the path of where the last canal breach occurred.