Making It Work

Plan of Stop gate for Section 289

The Stop Gate

A stop gate divides long stretches of canal into smaller lengths in the event of a break in the canal. Breaks in the banks of the canal were a common problem on the Erie, and if a break occurred in a section where there were many miles between locks, enormous amounts of water would drain away before the break was repaired. Stop gates were closed in emergencies, to isolate the area where a break occurred, thereby preventing the water in the entire section from flowing out.

When repairs were finished, the stop gate was opened, water flowed back into the drained area, and the canal functioned normally again. When closed, this stop gate resembles the angled roof of a house placed across the canal. When open, this structure collapses to the right and flattens out across the bottom of the canal.

There were many problems produced by excess water caused primarily by floods. Because there was no data on precipitation and stream flow to guide the design of culverts, waste weirs, and dams, much of the engineering was influenced by trial and error.