The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Cinder block creek crossing update

creek stepping stone update one year later

The cinder block stepping stones have held up nicely over the last year.

It turned out to be a huge improvement allowing us to step over the deep section 90 percent of the time.

A more stable solution would involve a large drainage pipe to let the bulk of the creek flow through. We heard of a neighbor trying such a trick only to have it wash out after the first big storm.

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.


I've looked at the way you positioned the cinder blocks and am wondering what would happen if you turned them so that instead of having the long section going with the water flow, you turned them going across and then turned them 1/4 turn so that the water would run through the holes. It seems that this would make less water pressure on the cinder blocks. You might need to put two together for surer footing that way, but you would then step on a flatter surface.

Comment by Sheila Sun Oct 14 21:33:03 2012
Why not build a simple foot path bridge. Would allow water to flow freely.
Comment by Olan Sun Oct 14 22:14:49 2012

Sheila --- We considered turning the blocks on their sides, but we wanted to go two high in many places, and they stack better if you put them rightside up with a post in the middle and concrete to hold them together. I think it gives us better traction this way too since the rough concrete gets slippery slower than the flat side of the block. (We've laid blocks in various ways in the creek over the years and walked on them, which is where I get my slipperiness data.)

Olan --- You might enjoy reading this post and this post, which explain our creek's flood potential and why we settled on the option we did.

Comment by anna Mon Oct 15 07:43:23 2012
I've seen a water crossing made from an old liquid train tanker car. They had the ends cut off of it, removed everything attached to it, and dropped it in the stream. A little dozer work to cover it with dirt and it held well. The did use a little cement on the up stream end to hold the dirt in place. My understanding is it has been there for nearly 20 years now.
Comment by Heath Mon Oct 15 11:36:51 2012
Heath --- What you have to be aware of when putting any culvert (which is what your tanker is, essentially) into a flood-prone stream is the amount of water that comes through during floods. That's what makes culverts in our creek so dicey. The creek looks so well-behaved for 75% of the time, but then we get water so high it spreads out across the entire floodplain. Unless the tanker had enough capacity to let all that water flow through, the next flood would wash it out regardless of how it's anchored.
Comment by anna Mon Oct 15 12:15:48 2012
No, I understand. These train tanker things, what ever they're actually called, are BIG. My brother drove a VW baja through the one I am talking about. I just called the property owners, she said they've had the stream with 10 feet of water in it and this things held up.
Comment by Heath Mon Oct 15 12:40:23 2012
Heath --- I think I didn't realize quite how big those must be! That does sound pretty impressive. :-)
Comment by anna Mon Oct 15 13:14:41 2012

I have been reading your blog for some time. And I am a bit ashamed to admit that I think my favorite posts are the ones that involve the cinder block crossing.
--It just reminds me of my days living on a farm, where there was always a an issue (often involving water)and after a million trials finally the problem would be solved once and for all... Your saga brings back 'floods' of memories, so thanks for the updates

Comment by Gineen Wed Oct 17 11:12:14 2012
Gineen-Glad to hear someone else out there has a soft spot for cinder blocks in creeks and the power of water. It does seem like there's always something to fix or adjust on a farm.
Comment by anna Wed Oct 17 13:56:32 2012
I sure get what you mean about the creek crossing. Everything is rosey until that one gulley washer and then it is all over with. I have seen cars and whole trees go down a flooding creek that is not any bigger than your creek. Yes cinder blocks do help, if anchored. Back when I was a kid they were still solid concrete, heavier than the cinder block. The only crossing I ever seen hold up was a 60 foot trailer frame from a mobile home. The banks were around 8 foot high in this spot though. It was put in, in the late 80's and still survives to this day. The board plankings have since rotted and replaced. But the high water didn't take it out. Good luck with your crossing. I sure like reading of your adventures. Think of them as the greatest time in your life. I am old now and have no more adventures and miss them so much, even the hardest of times. Don't falter and enjoy your life.
Comment by Patti Teeters Sat Oct 20 20:55:50 2012

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.