Filed Under Bridges

Tinker's Creek Aqueduct

The mid-nineteenth-century construction of the Ohio & Erie Canal connected smaller townships and farms to cities outside of the Cuyahoga Valley. The project, which lasted from 1825 through 1832, also brought new people into the valley as part of building crews. Thousands of men, including many immigrants, were hired to dig ditches, build embankments, and construct locks and gates. To manage the water levels, engineers needed to find a way to prevent local creeks and rivers from intermingling with the canal water. The construction of at least three aqueducts allowed the canal water to pass over smaller bodies of water without interruption.

Tinker's Creek represents the largest tributary flowing into the Cuyahoga River. Named for Captain Joseph Tinker, a boatsman and member of Moses Cleaveland's survey crew in the late eighteenth century, the creek originates in Streetsboro and then flows west where it meets the Cuyahoga River in Valley View. To bridge the Ohio & Erie Canal over Tinker's Creek, contractors hired men to build an aqueduct. Between 1825 and 1827, laborers earned about $.30 per day, as well as whiskey, to work on the project. Workers built a wood-lined trough, steel truss, and sandstone piers to transport canal water and boats over the creek. Canal workers also constructed similar aqueducts at Furnace Run, Mill Creek, and Peninsula.

Excessive flooding, a problem for many man-made structures in the valley, required the aqueduct to be rebuilt in 1845 and 1905. The last aqueduct to survive in the valley, the National Park Service was forced to remove the structure in 2007 after severe deterioration. In 2011, the National Park Service began a restoration project to rebuild the aqueduct and rehabilitate its masonry foundations. Today, the restored aqueduct stands as a testament to the history of human impact on the valley's environment, and how such technological developments transformed the daily lives of past and present valley residents.

Audio

Aqueducts for the Canal National Park Service ranger Rebecca Jones explains the need for aqueducts to complete the Ohio & Erie Canal. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Contractors and Crews Interpretive ranger Rebecca Jones talks about contracting crews and the piecemeal construction of the Ohio & Erie Canal and its aqueducts in the mid-nineteenth century. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Images

Aqueduct Design The National Park Service interpreters prepared this sketch of the 1845 aqueduct design that replaced the original 1825 structure after severe flooding.
Wood-Lined Trough This 1913 view of the Tinker's Creek Aqueduct, looking north from the towpath, displays the wood-lined trough that carried passing water. The Canal Road bridge can be seen to the right of the aqueduct. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record.
Waste Gates This 1913 photo shows the wood-lined trough and waste gates open after the canal has been drained. To prevent too much water from accumulating, waste gates allowed surplus water to escape the canal. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record.
Sandstone Piers Ashlar Sandstone Piers buttressed the aqueduct's trough, holding the canal water above Tinker's Creek. New, but similar, sandstone piers support the aqueduct today. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record.
Heavy Floods Even today, the canal and aqueduct continue to suffer damage from heavy flooding. The Tinker's Creek Aqueduct was replaced in both 1845 and 1905 after overflow from the Cuyahoga River and Tinker's Creek partially destroyed the structure. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.
Visiting the Aqueduct Today, visitors to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park can walk or ride alongside Tinker's Creek Aqueduct using Canal Road or the towpath. Photo by Carolyn Conklin.

Location

Metadata

Carolyn Zulandt, “Tinker's Creek Aqueduct,” Cleveland Historical, accessed December 2, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/355.