ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Rea's Creek Aqueduct, Georgia
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Rea's Creek Aqueduct, Georgia
Rae's Creek Aqueduct
The unique stone structure was built in 1850 to carry
the Augusta Canal over the rushing waters of
Rea's Creek in Augusta, Georgia.
Rea's Creek Waterfall
A swimmer takes a leap into
the rushing water of Rea's
Creek Waterfall in Augusta,
Georgia.
Rea's Creek Waterfall
The water of the creek once
flowed beneath the Rea's
Creek Waterfall, but now it
roars down a waterfall by the
historic stone structure.
Rea's Creek Aqueduct & Waterfall - Augusta, Georgia
Waterfalls & Historic Aqueduct
Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
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Rea's Creek Aqueduct
One of the oldest surviving
structures of its type in the
country, the aqueduct was
built by Italian stone masons.
Rea's Creek Falls
Swimmers play in the cold,
rushing waters of the Rea's
Creek Falls. It is one of the
finest waterfalls in the
Augusta area.
The Rea's Creek Aqueduct is a remarkable
pre-Civil War structure in
Augusta, Georgia.

Now part of the
Augusta Canal National
Heritage Area, the aqueduct is part of a park
that fascinates visitors because of its ancient
stone arches, rocky outcrops and the rushing
waters of one of the best waterfalls in the
Savannah River valley.

When the Augusta Canal was built in 1845 -
1846, one of the greatest obstacles its
builders faced was how to get the canal
across Rea's Creek. The rushing stream cut
directly across the planned route of the canal
and its flow was sufficient to cause a major
engineering problem.

The solution, it was decided, was to build the
canal right over the creek.

The first aqueduct was made of wood. Built
across the ravine through which the creek
flowed, it carried the waters of the canal over
Rea's Creek as part of a unique crossing of
two flowing waterways.

Building the aqueduct of wood proved to be a
bad idea. The timbers simply could not
withstand the pressure of all the water
flowing over them and within a year or two
began to fail. Leakage became a major
problems and engineers once again viewed
the aqueduct in hopes of finding a solution.

That solution proved to be the beautiful stone
structure that survives today.

Built in 1850 by Italian stone masons, the
twin vaulted aqueduct looks like something
one might find in Europe and remains in
remarkable condition today. It did not,
however, permanently solve the problem of
carrying the canal over Rae's Creek.

Plans were made to expand the canal in
1870 and engineer Charles A. Olmstead,
who had worked on New York's Erie Canal,
was invited to Augusta to consult on the
project. He proposed the damming of Rea's
Creek above the aqueduct to create a lake
and divert its waters.

The result was Lake Olmstead, now an
extremely popular Augusta recreation area.
The lake functions as a reservoir to retain
excess water from the creek, while its dam
diverts the main flow of Rea's Creek into the
Augusta Canal.

Flooding in the vicinity, however, continued to
happen from time to time. Noteworthy floods
in 1908, 1929 and 1936 damaged the canal
banks and caused other problems. By the
time of the last flood, the Great Depression
was underway and the city called on the
Federal government's relief program for help.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
responded by supplying labor and most of
the funding needed to build an additional
flood control structure. Called the Long
Spillway, the structure features gates that
connect the Augusta Canal directly with the
Savannah River. A stone channel was built
parallel to the Augusta Canal and past the
Rae's Creek Aqueduct.

The channel creates a rushing waterfall that
flows into the swimming hole at the aqueduct.
Waterfalls of the South
Water also sometimes pours down the rocks
by the aqueduct from the east, creating small
waterfalls. The source of this occasional flow
is the Tin House Gate, a smaller facility that
can be opened to release additional water
from the canal.

Due to all of this construction and rerouting,
the Augusta Canal was moved into a new
channel and no longer flows across the top
of the Rae's Creek Aqueduct. Traffic now
travels across the historic structure. Goodrich
Street, an unpaved road that parallels the
canal, crosses the old Rae's Creek ravine via
the aqueduct.

The area around the aqueduct is now a
popular recreation spot known locally as
Aqueduct Park. The beautiful Stone Mountain
granite and graceful arched vaults of the
Rea's Creek Aqueduct can be explored and
an interpretive panel has been placed to help
visitors learn the history and significance of
the structure. Swimming and rock climbing
are popular there.

Part of the developed area of the Augusta
Canal National Heritage Area, the aqueduct
and waterfalls are free to visit. To find them,
turn west from Broad Street onto Goodrich
Street, which becomes a dirt road running
beside the canal. Pass the historic King and
Sibley Mills and towering chimney of the
Confederate Powder Works and you will
reach Rea's Creek Aqueduct.

Goodrich Street passes directly over the
aqueduct and you will see its stonework to
your right. Parking is available by the road.

Please exercise caution as the rocky
outcrops around the aqueduct are steep and
can be dangerous. The waterfalls can cause
slippery conditions so be careful and enjoy!