Submitted by Richard Palmer.

New York State Assembly Document No. 146, 1855

(The total cost of this project would have been $678,105)


Map of Navigable feeder to Genesee Valley Canal  Navigable feeder - Belfast NY  Navigable feeder - Amity   Navigable feeder - Wellsville

(Click on each image for enlargement.)



State of New York

     No. 146.



   Sundry Reports in relation to a new feeder for the 

                   Genesee Valley Canal


                          STATE OF NEW YORK - CANAL DEPARTMENT:

                                             Albany, March 8, 1855


                  Speaker of the Assembly.


     Under the instructions of the Canal Board, I have the honor herewith to transmit the report of the Canal Board, together with the report of the State Engineer and Canal Commissioners, and the map, plan and estimates for a navigable feeder for the Genesee Valley Canal, from the Genesee River at Wellsville, to intersect said canal at or near Belfast, in conformity with the requirements of chapter 331 of the Laws of 1854. 

                                                                  Yours, &c.

                                                           M. SCHOONMAKER, Auditor.



                         STATE OF NEW-YORK

   Agreeably to chapter 331 of the Laws of 1854, the Canal Board has the honor herewith to report to your honorable Body the surveys, maps, plans, location and estimates for a navigable feeder for the Genesee Valley Canal, as provided for in said act, which have been submitted to them by the Canal Commissioners and the State Engineer. 

   This Board has given to the subject of said feeder such consideration as the importance of the subject, and the amount of expenditure involved in the construction of such feeder, would seem to require.

   The Genesee Valley Canal was originally surveyed and located, with all its necessary appendages, by able engineers, who planned and laid out all such feeders for it as seemed to them desirable. Their work has been carefully revised by still another corps of able engineers, who have none of them ever suggested the necessity of the feeder in question. The members of this Board have never yet, from any source, been advised of the necessity of such a feeder; but,  on the contrary, all their knowledge and information lead to the belief that it is quite unnecessary.

   The proposed feeder would enter the canal but six miles below the summit level of said canal, which is supposed to be provided with an abundant supply of water, and three miles above feeder from the Genesee river.  The last mentioned feeder is supplied by the Genesee river; and as it leaves the river at a point some fifteen to twenty miles below that now proposed, and as several important streams enter the Genesee between these two points, it is evident that the supply of water for the feeder now in use must be much more abundant than for that proposed.

   This Board, entertaining full confidence in the ability of the engineers who have laid out the Genesee Valley Canal with all its appendages, and fully believe that the feeder already projected will furnish an abundant supply of water for the use of said canal, have been unable to discover any necessity for that now proposed. Neither has the Board been able to discover that such feeder is demanded on the ground of public utility.

   The Genesee Valley Canal enters the county of Allegany from the north, near the center of the county east and west, and follows the course of the Genesee river southwesterly into the county of Cattaraugus, crossing the west line of the county about two-thirds of the distance from the north to the south line of the same, thus furnishing the facilities of canal navigation to much the largest part of the county. The New York and Erie Railroad crosses the entire width of the county, south of the middle of the same, and in so irregular a line as to afford very great advantages to all that part of the county. The northeasterly part of the county is crossed by the Buffalo and New York City Railroad; and also enjoys the benefits of the Dansville branch of the said canal, which terminates within two miles or less of the north line of the said county of Allegany.

   Few counties in the State enjoy greater advantages for the development of their natural resources, and for the transaction of business, than the county of Allegany; and these, great as they are, are to be still increased by the completion of the Genesee Valley Canal.

   In addition to all this, we cannot but notice that the proposed feeder, for full one half of its entire distance, will run in the immediate vicinity of the New York and Erie Railroad. Nor can we shun our eyes to the immense damage which accrue to all the machinery on the Genesee river, between Wellsville and Belfast, by the diversion of the water of said river for such feeder at the former place.

   For these various reasons, and others which if necessary might be mentioned, we are unable to discover any such amount of public utility to be secured by said feeder, as would justify the expenditure of the money, and the destruction of the mill-power and machinery which its construction would involved.

    All of which is most respectfully submitted.

     [Extract from the Minutes: By Order of the Board.]

                                    M. SCHOONMAKER, Auditor.




                                     Albany, February 28, 1855.

           TO CANAL BOARD.

  By Act, chapter 331, Laws of 1854, the Canal Commissioners and State Engineer and Surveyor are authorized (and required) to cause a survey and estimate to be made for a navigable feeder for the Genesee Valley Canal, from the Genesee river at or near Wellsville, and to intersect said canal at or near Belfast. The act also provides, that when the surveys are completed, the maps, plans, location and estimates of the same shall be submitted to the Canal Board, to be by them reported to the next Legislature within ten days after the commencement of the session, with their opinion thereon.

  The officers charged by law with the execution of the surveys

have performed that duty, with the exception as to the time specified in the act for submitting their report to the Canal Board. It is not believed, however, that the public interest will be seriously

affected by the delay in submitting the report. 

   The undersigned have now the honor of submitting to the Hon. Canal Board a map, showing the location of the line for the proposed navigable feeder, and the Resident Engineer's estimate of

the cost of construction; together with the reports of the Division and Resident Engineers, embracing some interesting facts connected with the project.

   It will be seen by the reports referred to, that the length of the feeder as surveyed is nineteen miles ; its confluence with the Genesee Valley Canal is at Belfast, only three miles southerly from the present feeder at Oramel, a feeder from the Genesee river which was brought into use in 1851, and only six and a half miles from the summit level of the Genesee Valley Canal. By the proposed feeder, the water is taken from the Genesee river at Wellsville, which is 168 feet above the canal at Belfast. There are

nineteen lift locks, one guard lock, thirty-three bridges, eight culverts and three waste-weirs required; and the estimated cost of the whole work is $678,105, exclusive of land damages and damage to the water power on the Genesee river below Wellsville.

   These are the general characteristics of the proposed navigable feeder, which are submitted without comment.

JOHN T. CLARK, State and Surveyor.



Canal Commissioners


Report of the Division and Resident Engineers on the

Wellsville Feeder, January 15, 1855.


State Engineer and Surveyor.

   In compliance with your instructions, I have caused a survey to be made under act chap. 331, Laws oi 1854, for a navigable feeder for the Genesee Valley Canal, from the Genesee river at a point in Wellsville, to intersect said canal near Belfast.

  The survey was made under the special charge of O. W. STOREY, Esquire, the Resident Engineer upon the Genesee Valley Canal; and I herewith submit a map of the proposed route of the feeder, together with his statement and the detailed estimate of the cost of the work.

   The survey for said feeder commenced near the head of Lock No. 80, about one mile southerly of the village of Belfast, at the point where the Genesee Valley Canal leaves the valley of the Genesee river ; and following the valley of the Genesee river, mostly through the improved lands of that valley, connects with the river near the mills of E. J. Farnum in the village of Wellsville.  The length of the feeder, as surveyed, is nineteen miles.

   The elevation of the river, at the point of intersection at Wellsville, is 168 feet above the water in the canal at its junction. To overcome this elevation Till require nineteen lift-locks one guard-lock, thirty-three bridges, eight culverts and three waste-weirs will also be required. The estimated cost of the work is $678,105.

   The estimates for this navigable feeder are based upon a canal of the same dimensions as the Genesee Valley Canal, and for similar kinds of structures. The estimate does not include any thing for land damages, nor for the diversion of water from the mills located upon this part of the Genesee river. The damages to the mills alone (twelve to fifteen in number) must be a very large


   This feeder would undoubtedly furnish an outlet, for some years to come, for a large quantity of pine lumber to pass through the Genesee Valley and Erie Canals to an eastern market. This lumber now finds a market over the New-York and Erie Railroad, which, for about eleven miles, runs parallel with this proposed feeder.

   From the fact that the Legislature passed this law, the inference would be that a feeder was required at that point. Such, I think, on examination will appear not to be the case. In reference to the accompanying map, it will be seen that the Genesee river is now taken into the canal as a feeder only three miles below this point, and therefore this proposed feeder could be needed only for this three Niles. This feeder would also intersect the canal only two miles below, the Rockville reservoir (which has of itself sustained the navigation of this part of the canal since its completion last fall), and six and a half miles below the summit level of the canal.

   It is therefore believed that the water which would be passed from the summit level, and the water from the Rockville reservoir, will be able fully to supply what may be needed on this three miles of the canal. If, however, a deficiency should ever occur at this point, a feeder can be constructed from the Genesee river, of sufficient capacity to pass all the water required, at an expense of $500,000 less than this proposed feeder.

Respectfully submitted :

JOHN LATHROP, Division Engineer,

ALBANY, January 15, 1855.




   According to your instructions, the following estimates have been made for a navigable feeder for the Genesee Valley Canal, from the Genesee river at a point at Wellsville, to intersect said canal near Belfast."

The line surveyed for the feeder intersects the Genesee Valley Canal one mile southwest from the village of Belfast, and extends nineteen miles in a southeasterly direction to the Genesee river above E. J. Farnum's mills at Wellsville. In its entire length it is confined to the valley of the Genesee, following the side-lying grounds forming the southwest side of the valley for four miles for the remaining distance, following the flats of the river. In some instances, the feeder will occupy a portion of the bed of the river. A large portion of the line passes over cultivated lands, some of which are well improved.

   From the intersection with .the canal at Belfast, to the river at Wellsville, there is an ascent of 168 feet, which it is proposed to overcome by nineteen lift-locks. It is also proposed to construct a guard-lock at the head of the feeder. There will be required four aqueducts, of two stretchers of 20 feet each, to pass over Black, White, Van Campen, and Knight's creeks; seventeen road and street bridges, one railroad bridge, and twenty-five farm bridges (one of the farm and one of the street bridges will be also used as a change of the towing path) ; and eight small culverts. It is also proposed to construct three waste-weirs.

   The face of the banks and the sides of the feeder are to be formed of earth, except where it becomes necessary to protect the channel against slides from the hills, or where the banks are exposed to be washed by the river : in the latter case, the estimates provide for slope walls resting on brush and stone aprons ; and in the former, a protection by slope walls of stone. Lining of loam, to cover over the loose gravel bottom and sides of gravel banks, is provided in the estimate.

  The estimates are made for locks to be constructed of dressed stone, laid in hydraulic cement ; aqueducts to be composed of wood trunk, with abutments and piers of good rock-dressed masonry resting on foundations of timber and plank road bridges with abutments of masonry, having superstructures of wood sealed and painted; for farm bridges, neither sealed or painted, resting on bents with extensions resting on the embankments, except in locations where abutments are necessary; for culverts composed of wood trunks with masonry at the ends, and for waste-weirs of wood having abutments of masonry. Suitable stone can be procured near the line of the feeder, in sufficient quantity for all the mechanical work.

   The estimates do not include any damages for lands to be permanently appropriated, nor for damages arising from the diversion of waters. The feeder will convey the waters of the Genesee river into the Genesee Valley Canal three miles southerly from the feeder at Oramel (a feeder from the Genesee river brought into use in 1851), and six and a half miles northeasterly from the northeast end of the summit level of the Genesee Valley Canal, and at an elevation of 82 feet above tho feeder at Oramel and 170 feet below the summit of the canal. The supply of water from this source, in addition to the flow from the canal above, will undoubtedly furnish a sufficient quantity for an uninterrupted navigation below its intersection during the season. This feeder will intersect the canal at a point eighty miles from Rochester, and twenty-six miles from Olean; the canal bearing a southwesterly course to Olean, and the feeder a southeasterly course as before mentioned.

   There are extensive forests commencing within a few miles of the route of the feeder, Which will furnish large quantities of pine and other timber for market ; and there are now erected mills of capacity sufficient to cut lumber for a heavy trade on the canal.

ORVILLE W. STOREY, Resident Engineer


Belfast, December 1, 1854.