How to Stop Island Soil Erosion with a Gravity Wall Solution

Ohio landmark island protected with Redi-Rock walls


The Historic Village of Grand Rapids, Ohio is located about 25 miles southwest of Toledo on the Maumee River. Walking around the Village of Grand Rapids, it's obvious this community deeply cares about preserving the important historic aspects of the town. This sense of preservation came into play when the Village was faced with the task of renovating Blue Bell Island.

Blue Bell Island is located in the old Miami and Erie Sidecut Canal basin branching off of the Maumee River. Measuring about 50 feet (15.3 meters) in diameter, the island is elevated 9 feet (2.7 meters) off of the canal bottom. This a historic landmark and once served as a turnaround on the canal, but over the years the canal had become filled with silt runoff and other debris from the river.

The original wall that prevented the island from eroding was failing and had become a recurring issue as seasonal flooding and ice damage from freeze-thaw cycles ripped it apart. Each year, this wall needed to be repaired or rebuilt in certain sections.


Flooding and freeze-thaw damage caused this historic island's retaining wall to fall apart.


The Village Council joined forces with the local Historical Society to discuss different options for the island. Wary of the costs of installing a permanent solution, they made plans to complete a temporary repair of the island's walls, then return later to do a permanent repair. When Brian Harman of Redi-Rock of Northern Ohio heard this, he presented the village with the option of using Redi-Rock as a permanent solution that could be installed quickly and cost effectively.

"After they saw how great Redi-Rock looked and how quickly it could be installed, they immediately fell in love with the natural stone appearance of the face of the Redi-Rock blocks. They liked that Redi-Rock could provide a permanent solution now, instead of doing a temporary fix and later having to do it again," Harman said.

An added benefit Redi-Rock offered was its proven track record for durability in freeze-thaw cycles. Redi-Rock blocks are constructed of architectural grade, wet-cast concrete. Redi-Rock gravity blocks are an ideal solution for shoreline protection and erosion control in water applications due to the massive size of each block - which allows walls to be installed quickly and built taller without reinforcement than other options.

Shortly after Harman's presentation, the Village and Historical Society decided to begin construction using Redi-Rock Cobblestone walls. Each Cobblestone block is cast from a mold made from real stone, giving the massive block the appearance of six smaller blocks. With four different face options, up to 23 square feet (2.1 square meters) of non-repeating texture is available.

After draining the canal, crews from Weilnau Excavating and the Village of Grand Rapids installed the wall, which was constructed within two days after the blocks were delivered. The retaining wall was completed in May of 2009, with final landscaping completed soon after.


This beautiful Cobblestone Redi-Rock walls now protects Blue Bell island from erosion.


Project Name: Blue Bell Island Restoration #109 Customer: Village of Grand Rapids, Ohio Manufacturer: Redi-Rock of Northern Ohio Installer: Weilnau Excavating and the Village of Grand Rapids Location: Grand Rapids, Ohio Year Built: 2009

Gravity Retaining Wall Blocks - Massive, one-ton Redi-Rock gravity blocks rely on the sheer mass of each block to hold back the earth.

Cobblestone Texture Blocks - One of the beautiful face texture options offered on Redi-Rock blocks.

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