From Outlet to Canal

Drogo

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#1
I'm posting this in a few messages as it is a transcript of a Spectator article from 1881, too long for one post. It isn't about Canal Bridges or the Outlet itself but supplies answers to some questions on both.

 

Drogo

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#2
Appeared in the Spectator Jan. 28, 1881

THE BURLINGTON CANAL

Incidents Attending Its Construction
(Written for the Spectator)

The building of the Burlington Canal was a big event, and the inquisitive inhabitants for many miles round about, as curiosity or Business called them, did not lose an opportunity of watching the progress of the work. Small spritsail boats and bateaux had passed occasionally through the natural outlet from the bay, when the mouth was not closed up with sand by easterly storms: but when an artificial passage through the beach was contemplated it was considered the eighth wonder of the world. How was it possible for so great a work to be accomplished? How was the drifting sand to be kept in check, or how could it be dug out? At all small gatherings of the people-at bees and visiting parties the subject was discussed; neighbourhood dispute and gossip were forgotten in the presence of this great enterprise; the general opinion being that it must end in disappointment. Why, the beach was all sand, the accumulation of the and blown material brought thither by easterly storms during centuries past, which, being deposited at first as a bar, had in the end risen above the surface; and as no westerly blows could disturb it, or carry it away, the result was the present ever widening beach.

The simple inhabitants were greatly exercised over the magnitude of this wild project; they had seen again and again the pent-up waters of the bay rise above the level of the lake, and sweep away the great sandbars at the outlet; and again they had seen the bellowing, raging, east storms heap immense banks of sand across its mouth, and stop the flow of what, only a few days before, was a great river; therefore, how was it possible to construct a work capable of resisting these mighty forces and secure a channel always open to admit the passage of vessels? To attempt such a thing seemed as chimevical (unreadable ?) as King Canute's attempt to check the flow of the tide. Notwithstanding, there were a few great men scattered about, among the people in those days, who appeared to think otherwise- men who had seen Montreal, once at least, and York (Toronto) many times. They were not like the modest, vote-seeking great men of today-but bold, outspoken men, confident; men who swelled out their bosoms like poater (?) pigeons, and hoarsely cleaned out their throats before speaking, and deposited the contents in their pocket kerchiefs, and spreading wide their feet, delivered their borrowed opinions to the gaping listeners-stopping occasionally to snort loudly through their noses, by way of confirming the importance, and the undying correctness of their opinions. They, with heads as empty as bellows, had the honor of an introduction to certain great engineers in Montreal, and they had said "The projected plan for cutting through the Beach and securing an uninterrupted passage for vessels was practical." This was final, no further information was necessary. Happy day when the masses pinned their faith in all things to the sleeves of those above them.

CON'T
 
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Drogo

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#3
It was the original intention to locate the Burlington Bay Canal a mile further south than the present cut, in order to give vessels an offing to northward to work in, should they fail in making the mouth of the canal in an west blow, but local interest on the north shore, and a shorter cut drew it to the present site. A similar mistake was made in locating the Welland Canal, for which Clews & Son, eminent engineers, surveyed a route between a point near the mouth of the Grand River, and Burlington Bay-descending the mountain at a break twelve miles east of Hamilton at Bowslough's-thence to Lottridge's pond and the bay. It was in vain that the cheapness of the route, its distance from the U.S. frontier and the capacity of the Burlington Bay, etc, were argued-local interest drew the canal to its present unsatisfactory route. But to return to our Burlington Canal; an American gentlemen, Mr. Strowbridge, was understood to be the contractor; a large sum of money had been appropriated by the Government. Mr. Strowbridge commenced operations, but, saw directly that the appropriation was too small. Mann & Spohn then took the contract with a farther appropriation. They carried the work to completion, not however, without another additional grant and reducing themselves to bankruptcy.

The commencement of the work was very simple; wagons and carts were used to remove the sand above the water level; then a huge scow with gearing driven by relays of four horses, scooped up the sand by means of endless chains revolving on drums, to which buckets were attached in such a way that, on rising to a certain height they cast their contents into false-bottomed scows, which, alternately were loaded and discharged their burden in deep water in the bay. When a sufficiently large opening was made, cribs of timber only twelve feet in width were sunk and filled with stones gathered along the shore of the lake.

The expenditure of money at the works soon built up quite a village, and farmers found a ready market for their produce, many of whom laid the foundation of their future comfort and independence from their sales the works. A scow ferry was kept up for a long time by Philip Magee, whose descendants own the present scow (plus 3 more words cut off) which the Government ungenerously taxes a large yearly sum under the pretext that the house stands within the canal limits, when in fact Magee was located there before the canal was begun, and limits were not thought of till long after his death. In time a swinging bridge was erected by Nathan Goodell, assisted by Henry Lutz, of Saltfleet, on the south side of the canal, reaching across the span of seventy feet; a light-house and beacon built of wood fire, after standing a number of years, and made room for the present substantial structure.

CON'T
 
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Drogo

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#4
On the opening of the canal the whole population of the surrounding country, and many from a distance came to witness the success of the great achievement. The weather was all that could be desired, and in the afternoon a schooner, crowded with passengers eager to share the glory of the first passage, was hauled out from a recess in the southwest pier, and warped through the canal; though she got aground several times and the passengers ran from side to side across the deck to ease her keel, which stuck fast in the sand. If my memory serves me, she was called the Ann and Jane and was in charge of Captain Zealand. A small stubby American steamer had come up from Queenston, and being of light draught, offered to run through the canal, but was not permitted until a British vessel had gone through first. Cheer after cheer followed the Ann and Jane, as she spread her white wings to the gentle breeze-the first Vessel to pass through the Burlington Bay Canal and navigate the Bay?

We may say, en passant, that the original canal was rather a diminutive affair; the piers were narrow and short; on the lake side were recesses for vessels to lie in, and also for the purpose of giving a broader base to the piers, and strengthening them on the storm side. But this arrangement was found to produce an eddy which formed bars in the canal. There was also a breakwater, made of a considerable number of piles, at the mouth of the canal; this, too, was found to be useless, besides being on some occasions an obstruction to vessels entering the canal.

To-day we may smile in our conceit at the simplicity of the original designers and contractors, in attempting, with such imperfect appliances, and without experience, so great a work; just as those who follow us may smile at our simplicity in continuing to use a scow ferry, instead of laying a railroad track across the bottom of the canal on which we could run a car ferry above water, and have it at all time safe and at a proper level.

January 24th, 1881 (signed) Hans.


END
 
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Drogo

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Feb 8, 2005
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#5
There has been speculation that the width of the old outlet was probably 20' and possibly 60' wide. I found it interesting above that when the sand wasn't forced into the outlet it is referred to as "a great river". There is a record of the width but as it is being used in an ongoing historical report it isn't my place to pass it on. I didn't find it on my own. It will be uploaded in the near future so that question will finally be answered.

Secondly there has been questions about how they dug out the canal. It is answered in this news article. Also a brief mention of what has been called on this site "the canal reserve" and goes into problems, like taxes that were levied after the canal was built.

Hope you enjoyed it.
 

scotto

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Feb 15, 2004
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#6
Good one Peggy, I always wondered how they would of dug it with basically no real machinery.
The Welland Canal was built not long after and the first vessel through, the Anne and Jane.
 

Drogo

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#7
Good one Peggy, I always wondered how they would of dug it with basically no real machinery.
The Welland Canal was built not long after and the first vessel through, the Anne and Jane.
Do you think Capt. Zealand maybe had an in somewhere????
 

Drogo

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Feb 8, 2005
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#8
Good one Peggy, I always wondered how they would of dug it with basically no real machinery.
The Welland Canal was built not long after and the first vessel through, the Anne and Jane.
My husband, who isn't interested in anything past yesterday, was alittle impressed by the method of digging the canal. He thought it would be something like a horse dragging a scoop but said they improvised a trencher or ditch digger.
 

David O'Reilly

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Dec 15, 2012
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#9
Drogo
It was the original intention to locate the Burlington Bay Canal a mile further south than the present cut, in order to give vessels an offing to northward to work in, should they fail in making the mouth of the canal in an west blow, but local interest on the north shore, and a shorter cut drew it to the present site. A similar mistake was made in locating the Welland Canal, for which Clews & Son, eminent engineers, surveyed a route between a point near the mouth of the Grand River, and Burlington Bay-descending the mountain at a break twelve miles east of Hamilton at Bowslough's thence to Lottridge's pond and the bay. It was in vain that the cheapness of the route, its distance from the U.S. frontier and the capacity of the Burlington Bay, etc., were argued-local interest drew the canal to its present unsatisfactory route. But to return to our Burlington Canal; an American gentlemen, Mr. Strowbridge, was understood to be the contractor; a large sum of money had been appropriated by the Government. Mr. Strowbridge commenced operations, but, saw directly that the appropriation was too small. Mann & Spohn then took the contract with a farther appropriation. They carried the work to completion, not however, without another additional grant and reducing themselves to bankruptcy.

The commencement of the work was very simple; wagons and carts were used to remove the sand above the water level; then a huge scow with gearing driven by relays of four horses, scooped up the sand by means of endless chains revolving on drums, to which buckets were attached in such a way that, on rising to a certain height they cast their contents into false-bottomed scows, which, alternately were loaded and discharged their burden in deep water in the bay. When a sufficiently large opening was made, cribs of timber only twelve feet in width were sunk and filled with stones gathered along the shore of the lake.

Drogo, do you have any information on whether the scow that was used for the dredging, had been designed and built specifically for the cut through the sand bar? In other words, were there other canals in Upper Canada (or Lower Canada for that matter) that were built through similar sandy conditions? I'm assuming that this scow, wouldn't have been practical for the construction of canals in heavy clay condition.
 
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Drogo

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#10
According to the above quote the job was taken on by Mr. Stowbridge who apparently decided quickly he couldn't do the job and it was taken over by Mann and Spohn. They sound more like contractors who must have known how to do it as they completed the job. The Canal Commission wouldn't have laid out the plan of how to execute the project. They would have handed over the project and would expect it done. I doubt Mann and Spohn invented it on the fly. More than likely they had done something similiar. The canals biggest problem was it's size. I'm sure people had trenched areas before. Probably the biggest sand box they ever played it. I don't have any other written information other than what was in the news article.
 

David O'Reilly

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Drogo
"It was the original intention to locate the "Burlington Bay Canal" a mile further south than the present cut, in order to give vessels an offing to northward to work in, should they fail in making the mouth of the canal in an west blow, but local interest on the north shore, and a shorter cut drew it to the present site. A similar mistake was made in locating the Welland Canal, for which Clews & Son, eminent engineers, surveyed a route between a point near the mouth of the Grand River, and Burlington Bay-descending the mountain at a break twelve miles east of Hamilton at Bowslough's-thence to Lottridge's pond and the bay. It was in vain that the cheapness of the route, its distance from the U.S. frontier and the capacity of the Burlington Bay, etc, were argued-local interest drew the canal to its present unsatisfactory route. But to return to our Burlington Canal; an American gentlemen, Mr. Strowbridge, was understood to be the contractor; a large sum of money had been appropriated by the Government. Mr. Strowbridge commenced operations, but, saw directly that the appropriation was too small. Mann & Spohn then took the contract with a farther appropriation. They carried the work to completion, not however, without another additional grant and reducing themselves to bankruptcy.

The commencement of the work was very simple; wagons and carts were used to remove the sand above the water level; then a huge scow with gearing driven by relays of four horses, scooped up the sand by means of endless chains revolving on drums, to which buckets were attached in such a way that, on rising to a certain height they cast their contents into false-bottomed scows, which, alternately were loaded and discharged their burden in deep water in the bay. When a sufficiently large opening was made, cribs of timber only twelve feet in width were sunk and filled with stones gathered along the shore of the lake."

Drogo, When Wiliam Chisholm began to develop the Oakville harbor in 1828, he convinced the Lieutenant Governor to let him use the dredge that was used for the construction of the Burlington Canal.
http://www.oakville.ca/culturerec/harbourheritage-essay2.html

but if the dredge (scow) that was used for the Burlington Canal, was worked by horses situated on either side of the innicial trench that had been dug by hand, I don't see how it could have been used for the Oakville Harbour. But, then maybe the horses weren't situated on either side of the trench to pull the scow, but were instead situated on the scow itself, and powered the gearing that operated the dredge mechanism. What I mean is, maybe the horses were harnused in place on the scow, and were prauded to move in a 'walking mosion' (I.E.) walking on the spot, and thereby powered a tread mill, which in turn propelled the dredge mechanism. I think this 'tread mill' was used in the 19th century, (and probably much earlier) but utilizing donkies, rather than horses.
 

Drogo

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#12
Drogo
“It was the original intention to locate the “Burlington Bay Canal” a mile further south than the present cut, in order to give vessels an offing to northward to work in, should they fail in making the mouth of the canal in an west blow, but local interest on the north shore, and a shorter cut drew it to the present site. A similar mistake was made in locating the Welland Canal, for which Clews & Son, eminent engineers, surveyed a route between a point near the mouth of the Grand River, and Burlington Bay-descending the mountain at a break twelve miles east of Hamilton at Bowslough’s-thence to Lottridge’s pond and the bay. It was in vain that the cheapness of the route, its distance from the U.S. frontier and the capacity of the Burlington Bay, etc, were argued-local interest drew the canal to its present unsatisfactory route. But to return to our Burlington Canal; an American gentlemen, Mr. Strowbridge, was understood to be the contractor; a large sum of money had been appropriated by the Government. Mr. Strowbridge commenced operations, but, saw directly that the appropriation was too small. Mann & Spohn then took the contract with a farther appropriation. They carried the work to completion, not however, without another additional grant and reducing themselves to bankruptcy.

The commencement of the work was very simple; wagons and carts were used to remove the sand above the water level; then a huge scow with gearing driven by relays of four horses, scooped up the sand by means of endless chains revolving on drums, to which buckets were attached in such a way that, on rising to a certain height they cast their contents into false-bottomed scows, which, alternately were loaded and discharged their burden in deep water in the bay. When a sufficiently large opening was made, cribs of timber only twelve feet in width were sunk and filled with stones gathered along the shore of the lake.”

Drogo, When Wiliam Chisholm began to develop the Oakville harbor in 1828, he convinced the Lieutenant Governor to let him use the dredge that was used for the construction of the Burlington Canal.
http://www.oakville.ca/culturerec/harbourheritage-essay2.html

but if the dredge (scow) that was used for the Burlington Canal, was worked by horses situated on either side of the innicial trench that had been dug by hand, I don’t see how it could have been used for the Oakville Harbour. But, then maybe the horses weren’t situated on either side of the trench to pull the scow, but were instead situated on the scow itself, and powered the gearing that operated the dredge mechanism. What I mean is, maybe the horses were harnused in place on the scow, and were prauded to move in a ‘walking mosion’ (I.E.) walking on the spot, and thereby powered a tread mill, which in turn propelled the dredge mechanism. I think this ‘tread mill’ was used in the 19th century, (and probably much earlier) but utilizing donkies, rather than horses.
This is just a guest David but "huge scow with gearing driven by relays of four horses" sounds to me more like then oxen were used on a walking wheel (tethered to spokes like wagon wheels) and their walking in circles turned the wheel to run grinding mills. I know from my Saltfleet research that John Combs did that in 1812. The relay method would allow the scow to continue running for long periods because the horses rested between shifts.
 

David O'Reilly

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#13
"Drogo
11-09-2013, 02:03 PM
"It was the original intention to locate the "Burlington Bay Canal" a mile further south than the present cut, in order to give vessels an offing to northward to work in, should they fail in making the mouth of the canal in an west blow, but local interest on the north shore, and a shorter cut drew it to the present site. A similar mistake was made in locating the Welland Canal, for which Clews & Son, eminent engineers, surveyed a route between a point near the mouth of the Grand River, and Burlington Bay-descending the mountain at a break twelve miles east of Hamilton at Bowslough's-thence to Lottridge's pond and the bay. It was in vain that the cheapness of the route, its distance from the U.S. frontier and the capacity of the Burlington Bay, etc, were argued-local interest drew the canal to its present unsatisfactory route. But to return to our Burlington Canal; an American gentlemen, Mr. Strowbridge, was understood to be the contractor; a large sum of money had been appropriated by the Government. Mr. Strowbridge commenced operations, but, saw directly that the appropriation was too small. Mann & Spohn then took the contract with a farther appropriation. They carried the work to completion, not however, without another additional grant and reducing themselves to bankruptcy.

The commencement of the work was very simple; wagons and carts were used to remove the sand above the water level; then a huge scow with gearing driven by relays of four horses, scooped up the sand by means of endless chains revolving on drums, to which buckets were attached in such a way that, on rising to a certain height they cast their contents into false-bottomed scows, which, alternately were loaded and discharged their burden in deep water in the bay. When a sufficiently large opening was made, cribs of timber only twelve feet in width were sunk and filled with stones gathered along the shore of the lake.

The expenditure of money at the works soon built up quite a village, and farmers found a ready market for their produce, many of whom laid the foundation of their future comfort and independence from their sales the works. A scow ferry was kept up for a long time by Philip Magee, whose descendants own the present scow (plus 3 more words cut off) which the Government ungenerously taxes a large yearly sum under the pretext that the house stands within the canal limits, when in fact Magee was located there before the canal was begun, and limits were not thought of till long after his death. In time a swinging bridge was erected by Nathan Goodell, assisted by Henry Lutz, of Saltfleet, on the south side of the canal, reaching across the span of seventy feet; a light-house and beacon built of wood fire, after standing a number of years, and made room for the present substantial structure.

CON'T

Drogo, this biography on James Gordon Strobridge, seems to indicate that Strobridge not only started work on the Burlington Canal, but completed quite a bit of it.
http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/strobridge_james_gordon_6E.html
 

Drogo

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#14
Drogo, this biography on James Gordon Strobridge, seems to indicate that Strobridge not only started work on the Burlington Canal, but completed quite a bit of it.
http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/strob...gordon_6E.html

News article doesn't say how much he did but he didn't finish it. The Spectator would make it sound like he just started and decided to there needed to be more money and the job was turned over. Biographies are often dependant on who writes them.
 

David O'Reilly

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#15
Drogo
"News article doesn't say how much he did but he didn't finish it. The Spectator would make it sound like he just started and decided to there needed to be more money and the job was turned over. Biographies are often dependant on who writes them."

Drogo, there seems to be several books on line with information on Strobridge's involvement with the canal.

Great work on finding this information on how the canal was cut through the sand bar. I guess one could say that in digging for this, 'you really hit the mother load'.
________________________________________
 

Drogo

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#16
Drogo, there seems to be several books on line with information on Strobridge's involvement with the canal.

Remember the article was written in 1881. In the neighbourhood of 50 yrs since the canal. Newsman probably did some digging, talked the people who remembered it. Nature tends to make you forget who didn't do something and only remember who did the job.
 

Drogo

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#17
Great work on finding this information on how the canal was cut through the sand bar. I guess one could say that in digging for this, 'you really hit the mother load'.

Way to go David!
Spoken like a true smart ass! Welcome to the group. Beach sand is a heavy topic!
 

David O'Reilly

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Dec 15, 2012
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#18
Here is a 1824 news paper article on the Burlington Canal from the Wayne Sentinel NY Paper.

http://images.maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.ca/63038/data?n=8



The Burlington Canal. - The Commissioners of the Burlington Canal, have given notice that they are ready to receive proposals for making a cut from Burlington Bay to Lake Ontario, 12 feet deep by 72 feet wide. The Lewiston Sentinel says this will be sufficiently large to admit sloops of war, and will afford the Canadians most decidedly the finest harbor on Lake Ontario; its advantages to the Province at large will be great; but to the immediate vicinity of the head of he Lake it will be incalculable. Indeed, those who are acquainted with the natural situation of Burlington Bay, or the Little Lake, as it is called, will only be surprised that this work, which can be accomplished at so trifling an expense, and afford such vast advantages to Upper Canada, was not long since executed.
 

David O'Reilly

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#19
“Drogo
11-09-2013, 02:03 PM
Appeared in the Spectator Jan. 28, 1881

THE BURLINGTON CANAL

Incidents Attending Its Construction
(Written for the Spectator)

The building of the Burlington Canal was a big event, and the inquisitive inhabitants for many miles round about, as curiosity or Business called them, did not lose an opportunity of watching the progress of the work. Small spritsail boats and bateaux had passed occasionally through the natural outlet from the bay, when the mouth was not closed up with sand by easterly storms: but when an artificial passage through the beach was contemplated it was considered the eighth wonder of the world. How was it possible for so great a work to be accomplished? How was the drifting sand to be kept in check, (or how could it be dug out?) At all small gatherings of the people-at bees and visiting parties the subject was discussed; neighbourhood dispute and gossip were forgotten in the presence of this great enterprise; the general opinion being that it must end in disappointment. Why, the beach was all sand, the accumulation of the and blown material brought thither by easterly storms during centuries past, which, being deposited at first as a bar, had in the end risen above the surface; and as no westerly blows could disturb it, or carry it away, the result was the present ever widening beach.” …

“CON'T
________________________________________
Drogo
11-09-2013, 02:03 PM

… “The commencement of the work was very simple; wagons and carts were used to remove the sand above the water level; then a huge scow with gearing driven by relays of four horses, scooped up the sand by means of endless chains revolving on drums, to which buckets were attached in such a way that, on rising to a certain height they cast their contents into false-bottomed scows, which, alternately were loaded and discharged their burden in deep water in the bay. When a sufficiently large opening was made, cribs of timber only twelve feet in width were (sunk) and filled with stones gathered along the shore of the lake.”

The problem that was being alluded to here, is that unlike digging a trench in clay conndissions, where the sides of the trench remain intact, when digging in sandy condisions, the sand collapses.

So how then was the canal cut through the sand bar? The answer might lie in the sentence, “When a sufficiently large opening was made, cribs of timber only twelve feet in width were (sunk) and filled with stones gathered along the shore of the lake.”

My reading of this is, that before any digging began, two cribs were constructed on the beach, from the lake to the bay, one where the north bank of the canal was intended to be located, and one where the south side was intended to be. And then the cribs were ‘sunk’ or driven down in to the sand, probably with the use of an animle pile driver. In this way, as the cut through the sand bar was being made, the cribs would prevent the sand on the outersides of the cribs from collapsing.

PILE DRIVER
“A pile driver is a mechanical device used to drive piles (poles) into soil to provide foundation support for buildings or other structures.”

“One traditional type of pile driver includes a heavy weight placed between guides so that it is able to freely slide up and down in a single line. It is placed upon a pile. The weight is raised, which may involve the use of hydraulics, steam, diesel, or manual labour. When the weight reaches its highest point it is then released and smashes on to the pile in order to drive it into the ground.”

“Ancient pile driving equipment used manual or animal labor to lift heavy weights, usually by means of pulleys, to drop the weight onto the end of the pile.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pile_driver#History

so in the case of the Burlington Canal, maybe the cribs along each side, were built in short sections, and then individually driven down in to the sand by a pile driver. Perhaps planks were placed across the centre of each crib, and the pile driver weight was then dropped on the planks.






where the sides of the canal were intended to be located.
 

Drogo

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#20
David
Cribs are gravity walls. They aren't pile driven into the ground. You can dig and set them in and they will finish "settling" themselves. Living on Fifty Point for 35 years you can trust I have helped build my share of retaining walls. Today gabion walls do the same thing. Pre cut wire fence that you wire together and fill with stone. Sit them on the beach and wave action settles them to clay base. Their weight and length stop them from rolling over.
 
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