Newest Skating Rink – The Oxbow

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.



More about the dam busting.

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.

basin floor collapse

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.

More about the canal mishaps.

Dam embankment!

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 red vegetation box looks exactly like where this dam breached many years ago.

1918_widewaters_embankment_2 copy

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.

Project Overview
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.

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.