On May 19, 1911, a 150 foot long break occurred in the wall of the New York State Barge Canal at Bushnell’s Basin. Construction on this section of canal had just been completed eight days earlier.
According to an article in the Monroe County Mail, it was a canal worker, John McCarthy, who at 4pm discovered water pouring through a narrow crack in the canal bank…
Perhaps not comprehending the gravity of the situation, John gathered some planks and shovel to try and patch the breach. But before a repair could be made, the break widened and John’s tools were washed away in a rush of water that would quickly carve out a 30 foot deep channel, draining a 3-mile long section of the canal into Irondequoit creek.
In addition to a house, a barn and many orchard trees being swept away, the supporting bank of the Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern trolley line was also washed away in the flood. 500 feet of track were left suspended in mid-air. A load of passengers on the 5pm trolley were narrowly spared thanks to their motorman who was able to apply the breaks and stop the car just in time. The article does not mention what happened to John, but I assume he lived to tell the story to the newspaper reporter.
This break was attributed to the fill that was used along the edge of the canal. Apparently it was too soft to hold up to the massive water pressure. But this would not be the last incident. Another major break would soon take place in the same vicinity.
In September of 1912 another break occurred at Bushnell’s Basin during work to widen the canal. The reconstruction work led to the collapse of the culvert that was built under the canal to allow Irondequoit Creek to pass through. This canal break released thousands of gallons of water leaving mud and giant concrete slabs strewn about the area. In the photo above, several people can be seen inspecting the damage.
But wait, there’s more…
On October 29, 1974 the bottom fell out (literally) while a new sewer tunnel was being built underneath the canal, again, at Bushnell’s Basin. An estimated 200 million gallons of water spilled out in a burst some likened to Niagara Falls. The Marsh Road bridge is in the distance.
This view shows the water pouring out of the canal from below. A wall of water about two stories high ripped through residential streets. This time 69 homes and dozens of cars were damaged or destroyed. Total damages were estimated at 1.2 million dollars. But luckily there were no major injuries.
Tags: Brook Hollow Road, Bushnell's Basin, Erie Canal, history of Rochester, infrastructure, John McCarthy, Marsh Road bridge, New York State Barge Canal, old photos, old photos of Rochester, old photos of Rochester NY, Perinton, Rochester, Rochester history, Rochester NY
This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 at 11:26 pm and is filed under Rochester History, Rochester Images, Transit + Infrastructure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.