Engineering a waterfront: Bulkhead, cribbing, and grillage construction in Alexandria

Author(s): Edward H. McMullen

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Rebuilding The Alexandria Waterfront: Urban Landscape Development and Modifications" session, at the 2019 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

The alteration of the Alexandria waterfront from a wet, muddy river bank along the Potomac River to a productive port city was accomplished through various stages of infilling which ultimately led to bulkhead, cribbing, and grillage construction to create a more permanent artificial landscape in the 18th and 19th centuries. These construction techniques varied from dumping felled trees and timbers onto wet areas to larger and more imposing bulkhead walls constructed of stacked timber beams held in place with iron spikes. Cofferdams and infilling along existing bulkheads and cribbing structures with cobbles would later solidify the expansion of land from the shoreline, leading to the development of a vibrant waterfront. This paper will briefly discuss the construction techniques of recently excavated bulkhead and cribbing walls at Robinson Landing, including the procurement and processing of timbers using dendrochronological data.


Cite this Record

Engineering a waterfront: Bulkhead, cribbing, and grillage construction in Alexandria. Edward H. McMullen. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, St. Charles, MO. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449216)


Temporal Keywords
18th-19th centuries CE

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 342