Holley Falls Embankment Dam – An Accident Waiting to Happen?

It's no secret that the raised Earthen Embankments that make up much of the Erie Canal are unsafe.


But getting the public to understand the safety issues to their communities, and having them engage the New York State Canal Corporation (NYSCC) to quickly identify these unsafe earth dams and repair them, has been a big challenge for the Erie Canal Neighbors Association (ECNA).

Ever since the New York Power Authority has taken ownership & control of the NYSCC, many changes have been taking place. From their initial Embankment Restoration Project, to the Reimagine the Canals initiative, the Erie Canal is going through another 100 year transformation. Once again it needs to be repaired, and repurposed for a 21st century audience.

One of the biggest changes is the challenge & effort of the NYSCC to simply "uncover" the Erie Canal from 100 years of overgrowth, and start to perform proper Annual Safety Inspections and Maintenance of their 125 miles of raised Earthen Embankments. It's all part of their Earthen Embankment Integrity Program, or EEIP as it's referred to.


Submitted for your review is perhaps one of the largest, in height, embankments found in the western section of the Erie Canalway, the Holley Falls Embankment Dam. It's one of the nicest places to spend an afternoon, and we highly recommend it to all.

"The Holley Glen" is a perfect place for a picnic


After searching the internet for a good "before" picture, and having a nice day to take an after picture to compare, it's not hard to see the overgrowth on this dam, and the inherent danger that puts the community in who happen to be living below this old earthen dam.

Take a look for yourself and judge... which Dam looks safer?

Circa 1900s

Circa 2021


And please remember you are only looking at a portion of ONE embankment dam, there are actually TWO here, that form a corner where the Holley Falls outlet is. That outlet is actually just an Erie Canal leak that cannot be stopped.


Here's the Holley Waterfall  Dam, created when a pair of locks that used to lower boats to get into the Village itself, were filled in from the original Erie Canal.  You can make out the Top level of the Erie Canal in the background above the falls (center) and the significantly lower flat level to the right of the waterfall.


This Earthen Embankment Dam should get moved to the very TOP of the EEIP embankment clearing list, in the next round of Dam Remediation that the program will undertake.

It's obviously not meeting State & Federal guidelines for proper covering, which is supposed to be grass, and it's a huge threat to many living on BOTH sides of the Erie Canal.

That culvert heads north, and if this embankment were to breach, there are many homeowners downhill on the other side who would see water rise to their doorsteps. Not to mention the amount of water that would head South towards the Village of Holley.

Perhaps the residents of Holley & the Town of Murray should follow the lead of Perinton and have an Online Petition created at Change.org to Save the Holley Falls Dam


No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment