Author Topic: Erie Canal Rehabilitation Pictures Embankment Dam 29 - Holley's Nightmare  (Read 66 times)

Doug K

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Had a chance to see the BIGGEST embankment along the NY Erie Canal this past weekend...along with capturing pictures of the clearing at Work Zone 29 Embankment Dam. I am putting this one dam on it's own page, to show both the uniqueness and also the danger still present for all of Holley on BOTH sides of the Canal.

Here's Work Zone 29 Dam... its about 2400' long, just under a 1/2 mile.  It runs from the Lift Bridge in Holley eastward to Bennett's Corner's road, just around the bend in the picture.



Now what makes this work zone dam so unique is that it sits directly across from the tallest dam on the Canal System and also a waterfall that is created by the canal itself. That uncleared Dam represents what has to be the biggest nightmare section of the whole canal system, next to the Great Embankment near Bushnell's Basin. It's not as wide as The Great Embankment but it is the tallest...



You can use the topographic map view above to understand where these next pictures were taken below the dam.



There is a winding path from the pond area down to the bottom of the waterfall that traverses part of the embankment dam that makes up this entire south side of the Erie Canal. There are walking paths all over and one leads to the Top of the Waterfall, while another takes you to the source of the water... a waste weir gate that has one door open feeding the falls. It's a nice attraction to see if you are in the area.



The Embankment that is still uncleared, which is about 1500' long, is a canal breach & flood just waiting to happen. If it does, much of Holley will be flooded as the culvert for E. Sandy Creek could not handle all the water. Flood water in this section would also travel North, and flood much of the lowland that is below the Work Zone 29 Embankment that was just cleared.

Hopefully Holley residents will request that they get their "other" Unsafe Embankment Dam gets added to the  list for the new Canal Corporation Embankment Integrity program and get this overgrown dam section cleared soon.

http://www.canals.ny.gov/Earthen_Embankment/overview.html

« Last Edit: March 04, 2021, 11:27:30 am by Doug K »

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Doug K

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Found a GREAT old postcard the other day, well actually my wife Sandy did. It's of the "great embankment" of Holley NY.

Why do I say great embankment? Because it is one of the tallest earthen dams on the entire Erie Canal System, no joke. This one is over 75' tall and also has a huge leak in it that is commonly called Holley Falls. It's in a place that has been referred to as "The Glen" in the early years of the Erie and this earthen embankment is actually two dams, one from the original 1818 canal and another that was added to it to cutoff a "feeder canal" that lowered boats down a couple locks so that they could get right into the Village of Holley, way back when.

When the Erie Canal was "reimagined" the first time, in 1918 to the current size & shape we know as today's NYS Barge Canal, this little feeder canal was closed off during the expansion. Well almost closed off. A leak developed that over the years has been impossible to shutoff and so now that breach in the canal embankment is affectionally known as Holley Falls.

Here's the picture of what the Holley Falls Embankment Dam looked like, circa early 1900s





Note the stone culvert near the center of the postcard. That is actually running UNDER this earthen dam. The trolley you see is running along the edge of the waterway, some 75' above the culvert. This is all to allow the East Branch of Sandy Creek to flow unobstructed to Lake Ontario. Remember that culvert as a picture of the CURRENT STATE of this earthen dam will be shown further along in this post.

In another post card, from around 1910, you can see the Holley Feeder Canal just east of where the Trolley postcard was taken. It was taken from the TOP of the embankment, looking east. You can see the water flowing freely SOUTH towards the Village of Holley, located below all of this impounded water.






Yes, this a very large Earthen Embankment Dam, and may be cleared very soon as part of the New York Canal Corporation's Earthen Embankment Integrity Program (EEIP). Here's the Village of Holley Map from the EEIP effort that is working is way along 125 miles of unsafe canal embankments, returning these embankments to their "as new" condition.





For reference here's a Google Map of the same area




And here's what this earthen embankment looks like today, overgrown, covered with massive trees that could cause a canal embankment breach anytime a strong wind blows. Note the culvert, which I tried to locate in the same general area as the postcard.






If you live in the Village of Holley, anywhere south of Holley Falls, you may want to think just a little more about your safety, and the safety of your community and join with the ECNA to hold the NYS Canal Corporation responsible for clearing up their public safety nightmare and clear these overgrown, unsafe earth dams.

Their definition of these embankments per their Embankment Safety Program: https://www.canals.ny.gov/Earthen_Embankment/overview.html


« Last Edit: March 04, 2021, 01:59:44 pm by Doug K »

Doug K

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Just How Tall is the Holley NY Earthen Embankment Dam?
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2021, 03:43:41 pm »
The quick answer, is over 75 feet tall from Holley Dam Empire trail to the bottom at the point where Sandy Creek runs through a dive culvert below it.


Here's the imagery of the embankment from Google Maps and USGS Topographical Map Series for the area.






And you can see the height in this video taken directly over the culvert, you can see Sandy Creek well below through the canopy of trees left after the Canal Corporation cleared much of the actual embankment there.


https://youtu.be/Efbwkn6nShA
« Last Edit: September 04, 2021, 03:44:46 pm by Doug K »