The 1,425-foot south pier as it exists today was built by the Army Corps of Engineers, to strengthen an earlier citizen-built pier that was vital to Buffalo's emergence as a city. In 1820 villagers built a 900-foot pier at this site by placing wooden cribs on thick beds of brush and then filling them with heavy stone. Early next spring, using a pile driver fashioned from a war of 1812 mortor and powered by a blind horse, workers built a dam across nearby Buffalo Creek in hopes of turning the expected spring floods to scour a new, straight channel across the gravel spit and along the new pier. Just as all was ready, a lake surge flooded the spit and destroyed much of the dam. A storm followed, its heavy rains signaling the start of the spring floods, and scores of villagers turned out to work 12 hours straight before finishing repairs by torchlight. Spring freshets that morning scoured out 20,000 yards of sand and gravel and out the new channel. The pier was extended to 1,320 feet that summer, offering shelter from storms and a port for Buffalo's growing commerce.