St. Helena Water Gauge

Mr. C. Scott De Golyer has been very helpful in giving us the following information about the recording gauge installed at St. Helena to check the water stage of the river. This station was established by George M. Brett and Charles E. Allen on August 14, 1908. It consisted of a standard Geological Survey chain gauge attached to the lower chord of the first left-hand panel of the middle span of the highway bridge. It was converted to a recording gauge station by W. G. Hoyt and C. S. De Golyer on August 24, 1911. The first recording gauge was a Gurley printer indicating the river stage every fifteen minutes. The St. Helena gauge house, was believed to be one of the first in the United States that was built of concrete.

The St. Helena gauging station was discontinued on September 30, 1950, because it was in the area affected by waters impounded by the Mt. Morris dam. It was replaced by the station at Portageville, which had been established in December, 1945. The average daily flow of the Genesee River at St. Helena for the forty-two years of record was 1,223 cubic feet per second. The maximum flow during the same period was 44,400 cubic feet per second, on May 17, 1916; the minimum was 18 cubic feet per second on October 5 and 17, 1913. The drainage above St. Helena was 1,017 square miles.

The ground water observation at Castile was established by John Ferris on November 18, 1942. It is officially designated as WO-1 (meaning first observation well in Wyoming County). It is located on the former Lyman Brainerd farm near St. Helena. It was a “hand measured” well until October 17, 1951, when the standard tape gauge was installed. For the ten years of record, the average water level has been about 5.6 feet below the measuring point or land surface elevation. The highest level of water in the well was in February 1945, when it was only 0.58 feet below the land surface. Its lowest observed level was 12.92 feet below the measuring point on November 23, 1952.

The purpose of the ground water observation is to aid in a study of the water level throughout the United States. Readings are taken weekly by Mr. De Golyer who reports them to the U. S. Department of the Interior.

Herman Piper read the chain gauge on the St. Helena Bridge from the time of installation in 1908 until 1919, when Glen Streeter took the readings for a time; after this, Mr. De Golyer took over until the stations were discontinued in 1950. Both kinds of readings were taken to check on accuracy.

Source: Anderson, Mildred L. H, and Marian P. Willey. St. Helena, Ghost Town of the Genesee, 1797-1954. Castile, N.Y, 1954. Print.

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