The Great Embankment – A Surveyor Earns His Pay

the great embankment

The Great Embankment is found just a few miles east of Rochester at Pittsford, NY. In the earliest days of the Erie Canal, the embankment thrilled both onlookers and passengers alike as boats seemed to travel in midair over the mile-wide valley created by the Irondequoit Creek. On the right above: Leaks were a constant threat here because the soils under the embankment were inherently unstable (1974: see “Bankwatch“). ¬†Photo courtesy Town of Perinton historian.

great embankment

The modern Barge Canal enlargement was completed in this section and the gates were opened to let the water in; but mistakes were made. This break in the Embankment is seen from the north. The concrete liner alone (see below) wasn’t enough to contain the weight of the new canal on these unstable soils. In the repaired version, the liner was restored, AND enough new soil was placed to reinforce this north side to accomodate what is today a small park. Photo courtesy Town of Perinton Historian.

great embankment

Ca 1909 – When the canal was enlarged for the modern Barge Canal, a concrete liner was installed across the Embankment to protect the nearby population from blowouts. This picture (facing west) was taken from very near where the Marsh Road bridge now crosses the canal at Bushnell’s Basin (see second view below). The present “Great Embankment Park” is in the area to the right just under the red circle. Photo courtesy Town of Perinton Historian.

great embankment

Facing west: The canal’s principal supply of water in this section is the Genesee River just a few miles to the west. The flow seen spilling from the far channel would have been leakage through a pair of guard gates installed not far around that distant bend to protect those living nearby from incidents just like this one. Photo courtesy Town of Perinton Historian

great embankment

Facing West: This picture was taken in 2008 from the Marsh Road bridge in the community of Bushnell’s Basin. The yellow arrow here is pointing to the same spot as the one in the second picture above for reference. Richardson’s Restaurant is directly behind the camera, and the Burgundy Basin is behind the trees on the right.

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