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The Mohawk River Aqueducts

(click on an image below to see the full-size version)

East of Schenectady were two aqueducts which crossed and re-crossed the Mohawk River: The Rexford Aqueduct (or Upper Mohawk River Aqueduct) at Rexford, and The Crescent Aqueduct (or Lower Mohawk River Aqueduct) twelve miles downstream at Crescent.

In order to avoid steep, rocky terrain, Canvass White, C.E. devised the plan, approved in 1821, for the canal route to cross and re-cross the Mohawk River at Alexander's Mills (adjacent to Rexford) and at Fonda's Ferry (near Crescent). Continuing in operation until the new State Barge Canal System opened in 1916, a major portion of the Rexford Aqueduct was removed in 1918. The entire Crescent Aqueduct was removed, and nothing remains but a few stones at each end.


The Rexford Aqueduct

The Rexford Aqueduct, or Upper Mohawk River Aqueduct, crossed the Mohawk River at an angle of about 10 degrees NNE from the south side (west end) in Niskayuna, Schenectady County to the north side (east end) in Rexford, Saratoga County. Built in 1842, it replaced the original 1828 Rexford Aqueduct. It was built of random ashlar masonry, probably limestone, and consisted of 14 masonry arches spanning approximately 45 feet to support the towpath, and 14 masonry piers approximately 45 feet wide to support the original timber canal trunk.

Plan of the Upper Mohawk River Aqueduct near Schenectady, N.Y. Plan of the Upper Mohawk River Aqueduct near Schenectady, N.Y.
"Erie Canal (Enlarged), Upper Mohawk River Aqueduct (Rexford Aqueduct) -- from the Historic American Engineering Record,
HAER NY-12 (HAER NY,46-REXFO,1-5)
National Park Service, Department of the Interior.
Plan of the Upper Mohawk River Aqueduct near Schenectady, N.Y. (source unknown).
 
The Erie Canal and Mohawk River, Schenectady, N.Y.
"Where the Erie Canal crosses the Mohawk River near Schenectady, N.Y." [Looking north from the Niskayuna side] (12464 -- Robson & Adee, Schenectady, N.Y.) -- Double postcard ; UNDB ; not postmarked ; probably 1906. This same view was also issued as two separate postcards (see the postcard below left), and in reduced size on a standard sized postcard (see the postcard below center).
 
Where the Erie Canal crosses the Mohawk River near Schenectady, N.Y. Where the Erie Canal crosses the Mohawk River near Schenectady, N.Y. Erie Canal, looking West to Bridge, Schenectady, N.Y.
"Where the Erie Canal crosses the Mohawk River near Schenectady, N.Y." (Robson & Adee, Schenectady, N.Y.) -- Postcard ; postmarked July 27, 1906. "Where the Erie Canal crosses the Mohawk River near Schenectady" (9349 -- Robson & Adee, Schenectady) -- Postcard ; UNDB ; not postmarked ; probably 1906. "Erie Canal, looking West to Bridge, Schenectady, N.Y." (no publisher info.) -- Postcard ; postmarked Oct. 25, 1911.
 
New vertical wall at entrance to Upper Mohawk aqueduct New vertical wall at entrance to Upper Mohawk aqueduct Dam on Mohawk River at Rexford Flats
"New vertical wall at entrance to Upper Mohawk aqueduct" -- from: Annual Report of the State Engineer and Surveyor of the State of New York, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1897 (Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Co., 1898)
[the same curve as that in the postcards below]
"Upper Mohawk Aqueduct, circa 1900" / Albert Gayer, photographer ; circa 1900 (photograph ; 6 x 9 in.) -- From: Rochester Images, Perinton Municipal Historian Collection (Image Number: tpm00184). "N.Y. State Dam on Mohawk River at Rexford Flats, Saratoga County, N.Y." -- from: Annual Report of the State Engineer and Surveyor of the State of New York, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1900 (Albany : James B. Lyon, state printer, 1901) -- facing p. 373. Note the canal and towpath in the foreground and left center.
 
Erie Canal, Schenectady, N.Y. The Erie Canal, Schenectady, N.Y. Erie Canal and Aqueduct, Schenectady, N.Y.
"Erie Canal, Schenectady, N.Y." (no publisher information) -- Postcard ; not postmarked ; approx. 1908. "The Erie Canal, Schenectady, N.Y." (24692 -- no publisher information) -- Postcard ; postmarked Aug. 17, 1909. "Erie Canal and Aqueduct, Schenectady, N.Y." (366 -- Rudolph Bros., Syracuse, N.Y.) -- Postcard ; postmarked Nov. 19, 1911.
 
The Canal Aqueduct and Bridge crossing the Mohawk River near Schenectady, N.Y. The Erie Canal, Schenectady, N.Y. Aqueduct and Dam at Schenectady, N.Y.
"The Canal Aqueduct and Bridge crossing the Mohawk River near Schenectady, N.Y." (No. 11634 -- J.J. Cunningham, Schenectady, N.Y.) -- Postcard, postmarked Aug. 16, 1907. This is the upriver side -- the piers on the aqueduct and parallel bridge are angled to fend off floating objects and ice. "The Aqueduct and Rexford Flats, Schenectady, N.Y. (24684 -- no publisher info.) -- Postcard ; postmarked Aug. 25, 1911. This is the downriver side. Note the canal boat crossing the aqueduct on the left. "Aqueduct and Dam, Schenectady, N.Y." (Albany News Company, Albany, N.Y.) -- Postcard ; not postmarked ; approximately 1911? (see note below*)
* In the postcard above right, the dam is barely visible in the lower right corner. The structure at the lower left is the Rexford feeder guard lock. The feeder passed under the first arch of the aqueduct and brought water from the dam (which crossed the river just above the aqueduct) east to the main canal between the lower Rexford locks and the change bridge (see the picture below left). This water was used for operating all of the canal and the canal locks all the way to a point below the Cohoes Falls.
 
The Erie Canal at Rexford Where the Erie Canal crosses the Mohawk River near Schenectady, N.Y. The Aqueduct near Schenectady
"The Erie Canal at Rexford" -- Lock 21 (before it was extended) is on the right, the Rexford feeder is at lower left center, and the Upper Mohawk (Rexford) Aqueduct is in the left background -- Photograph ; circa 1900 -- source unknown. "Where the Erie Canal crosses the Mohawk River near Schenectady, N.Y." [Looking west from the Rexford (north) side] (12449 -- David C. Houck, Schenectady, N.Y.) -- Postcard ; postmarked Oct. 16, 1907. "The Aqueduct near Schenectady where the Erie Canal crosses the Mohawk River, Schenectady, N.Y." (54269 -- The Rotograph Co., N.Y. City) -- Postcard ; UNDB ; postmarked Jul. 3, 1907.
 
Erie Canal Lock No. 21 at Rexford Flats Erie Canal Lock 22, Rexford, N.Y. Erie Canal Aqueduct and Rexford Flats
"Erie Canal. Rexford Flats, Schenectady, N.Y." [Lock No. 21] (no publisher information) -- Postcard ; not postmarked ; approximately 1910? "Erie Canal Lock 22, Rexford, N.Y." (E114 -- no publisher info.) -- Real Photo postcard ; approximately 1910? ; Reprinted with permission from Erie Canal, by Andrew Kitzmann and the Erie Canal Museum (Arcadia Publishing, 2009), p. 87. "A general view [looking west] of the Erie Canal Aqueduct and Rexford Flats, Schenectady, N.Y." (No. B 13389 -- Albany News Co., Albany N.Y. (Litho-Chrome)) -- Postmarked Sep. 27, 1912.

 
The Rexford aqueduct in 1969 The Rexford aqueduct in 1969 The Rexford aqueduct in 1969
The Rexford aqueduct in 1969 "Erie Canal (Enlarged), Upper Mohawk River Aqueduct (Rexford Aqueduct)" -- images of the remains of the Rexford Aqueduct in 1969 -- from the Historic American Engineering Record,
HAER NY-12 (HAER NY,46-REXFO,1-)
National Park Service, Department of the Interior
 
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For pictures of the present-day remains of the Rexford Aqueduct, see The Rexford Aqueduct page.


 

The Crescent Aqueduct

The Crescent Aqueduct, or Lower Mohawk River Aqueduct, re-crossed the Mohawk River 12 miles downstream from the Rexford Aqueduct, from the north side (west end) at Crescent, Saratoga County to the south side (east end) just northwest of Cohoes, Albany County. It also was built of random ashlar masonry, probably limestone, and consisted of 25 masonry arches to support the towpath.

Plan of the Lower Mohawk Aqueduct at Crescent, N.Y. The Lower Mohawk Aqueduct at Crescent The Crescent Aqueduct near Crescent, N.Y.
"Erie Canal (Enlarged), Lower Mohawk River Aqueduct (Crescent Aqueduct) -- from the Historic American Engineering Record,
HAER NY-12 (HAER NY,46-REXFO,1-6)
National Park Service, Department of the Interior.
"Holzerner Bruck-Canal auf 26. Steinpfeilern uber den Mohawk (from: Bereisung der Vereinigten Staaten von Nordamerika, mit besonderer hinsicht auf den Erie-canal / von A. Duttenhofer (C.W. Loflund, Stuttgart, 1835) -- pg. 57). "Crescent, N.Y." (no publisher information) -- Postcard ; not postmarked ; probably 1910-1912.
 
The Crescent Aqueduct near Crescent, N.Y. New vertical wall at the entrance to the Upper Mohawk aqueduct The Erie Canal, Schenectady, N.Y.
"Barge Canal Contract no. 109" [Crescent Aqueduct] -- from: Annual Report of the State Engineer and Surveyor of the State of New York for the fiscal year ended September 30, 1914 (Albany : J.B. Lyon Co., printers, 1915) -- facing p. 48. "Barge Canal, Contracts Nos. 109 and 14-B" [Crescent aqueduct] -- from Annual Report of the State Engineer and Surveyor of the State of New York for the fiscal year ended September 30, 1915 (Albany : J. B. Lyon Co, printers, 1916) -- Left: facing p. 82 (the aqueduct paralleling the new New York Highway 146 bridge) ; Right: facing p. 84 (dismantling the Crescent Aqueduct).
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For pictures of the present-day remains of the Crescent Aqueduct, see The Crescent Aqueduct page.


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