The Erie Canal Culvert in Medina

Feats of Engineering

Many feats of engineering were needed to conquer major challenges in building the first Erie Canal.

  • At the Great Cayuga Swamp near Clyde, workers found their ditch completely filled back in each day with no trace of their previous labors. The problem was resolved with the use of wooden retaining walls held in place by posts driven so deeply into the ground that the sides of the canal’s trench were at last maintained.
  • At the deep Irondequoit Creek Valley and its glacier-formed hills, an embankment was created to carry the canal 70 feet above the valley floor by carting dirt in wheelbarrows. This Great Embankment, at what is now known as Bushnell’s Basin, was the largest ever accomplished by man.
  • Construction of a stone aqueduct spanning more than 800 feet and supported by 11 stone arches was the solution to crossing the roaring Genesee River in Rochester. When completed, visitors from around the world came to view its great expanse.
  • Near Medina, the Canal Culvert tunnel was created to allow a road to go under the canal, avoiding a very expensive and time consuming construction of not only a bridge but the building up of roadways on both sides. Featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!