RESEARCH BY Richard Palmer

Aqueduct Across Genesee River

Lyons Advertiser
Aug. 2, 1822
The Erie Canal

Aqueduct across Genesee River. - This important work is placed on a rapid of some length, and about twenty-four feet fall, which is formed by one of those rolls of land, and barriers of hidden rock, which, though at several miles distance from it, evidently mark the course and sinuosities of the shore of Lake Ontario; and is perhaps the most elevated ramification of land and rock which protrudes from the natural bank known by the name of the Big Ridge.

On the lower part of this rapid, and within half a mile of the great falls of Genesee, in the village or Rochester, is the point selected for the erection of this structure. The bed of the river here is solid silicious lime rock, nearly allied to that kind called swine stone. The eastern shore is nearly precipitous; the western is shelving; and the whole distance across is about 600 feet, over which the aqueduct is now erecting.

Against the eastern shore the work commences with an abutment, which will average about 20 feet in thickness, and about 6 in height; from these the arches spring, of which there will be nine, of 50 feet span. The first five of these are supported on piers, which, from the shelving position of the bed of the river, will be from 8 to 4 1-2 feet high; their length is 36 feet 6 inches, including at each end a pedestal, surmounted by a dome, out of which rises a pilaster, connected and bound into the parapet walls of the aqueduct.

In planting these piers, extraordinary caution is used to secure the permanency of the structure, by bolting the courses to the rock below, and to each other; and by cramping them at the joints in such manner as to ensure nearly as much strength as is combined in an unbroken stone. The arches are three feet thick at their foot, and diminish to and a half at the apex; they rise eleven feet, and their length is twenty-six feet and six inches. The ends of each arch, or as they are termed, 'the rings,' are cut in rustic, and projected one inch, to prevent the superincumbent pressure from abrading the quoins of the joints.

The materials of which this work is constructed are red sandstone and gray silicious limestone. The sandstone is of a hard texture, and is procured about three miles from Rochester, on the banks of the Genesee river, in blocks of two feet and a half to three feet and a half in thickness, and three to seven feet long; the limestone is brought from a quarry near the head of Irondequoit bay, also distant about three miles. These stones are cut into their required forms at the quarries, and when transported to the aqueduct are fit for use, without additional labor.

Above the crown of the arch, and at that point where the bottom of the aqueduct meets the level of the canal, is a belt, or plinth, running through the whole length of the structure, and projected about three inches beyond the walls, above which are to rise the parapet walls. These are to be five feet hight, five or six feet thick at their base, and to fall back, or batter, on the inside, one foot. All these parts of the work are to be of the best cut stones, as well as the piers, spandrells, pilastres, and arches; they are to be laid in the best water cement, and the interstices in every part completely saturated with grout made of the same material.

The whole of this important work, when finished, will contain 11 or 12,000 perches, in which will be 48 or 50,000 feet of well cut stone. In addition to the arches above described, the work will be prolonged at each end, from the river to a certain distance, in order to include within its extent two race-ways; one excavated on the west side by Col. Rochester, and one on the east side, by Messrs. Johnson and Seymour, to convey water to the numerous and very valuable hydraulic works, with which the banks are studded, immediately below the aqueduct, and the water for which must pass under the aqueduct, through sunken culverts of about 25 or 30 feet span.

After passing the culvert on the east side, a wall in continuation, extends about 120 yards, nearly at a right angle with the aqueduct, and parallel to the race on that side, the object of which is to secure the canal bank and water, and effectually separate them from the afore-said race. Still lower, and parallel to the above, is another wall, which unites with the parapet wall of the aqueduct, at the south end of the culvert, and which it became necessary to build, for the purpose of separating the race from the Genesee river. The length of this wall is about 800 feet, and it encloses an embankment for the greater security of the race.

The great work was contracted for and begun by Capt. William Brittin, of Auburn, in 1821. He commenced his operations on it, but died suddenly, while it was only in a partial state of preparation. It has since been placed by contract in the hands of Mr. Alfred Hovey, of Montezuma, to whose energetic exertions and intelligence, together with those of the principal builder, Mr. John W. Hayes, the public is looking with the most implicit confidence for the completion of this important and interesting undertaking.

So far as the work has yet advanced, they have paid the most careful attention to the plans and model of the structure; and their skill in the execution of it, as well as their zeal for its accomplishment, has not been surpassed, and I think rarely equalled.