Friday, February 24, 2012

Ashokan Reservoir ~ Ulster Co., NY

"People in the Esopus Valley hardly knew what was about to happen when New York City officials came calling, talking about damming the creek to build a reservoir. The city would use its power of eminent domain to take their farms and homes. Villages were flooded by water up to 100 feet deep ..."

The building of the Catskill Water System is the tale of heroism and heartbreak, political maneuvering, lost villages, brilliant engineering and a power struggle between New York City and the Catskills. Completed in stages between 1915 and 1926, the Ashokin and Schoharie Reservoirs were built by thousands of stone cutters, bridge builders, railroad workers, tunnel diggers and mule drivers.

The Ashokan Reservoir is a reservoir in Ulster County, NY. The reservoir is in the eastern end of the Catskill Park, and is one of several reservoirs created to provide the City of New York with water. However, it is one of only two reservoirs in the Catskill Watershed. It is also New York City's deepest reservoir, being over 190 feet. Primary inflow is the Esopus Creek and outflow.

To accommodate it, nine villages were either removed or obliterated forever. These included West Hurley, Ashton, Glenford, Brown's Station, Olive, Brodhead Bridge, Shokan, West Shokan and Boiceville.
Old Town of West Hurley
Eleven miles of the Ulster & Delaware Railroad tracks were taken up and relocated. 64 miles of highway were discontinued, including a long stretch of the famous Plank Road and 40 new miles of boulevard built, mainly of macadam. Ten new bridges were constructed. A sensational feature was the removal from 32 cemeteries of 2,800 bodies or skeletons, including those of many soldiers of the Revolution, and their reinterment in new pine boxes in neighboring graveyards.

After 9/11, the New York City water supply once again became big news. To protect the Ashokan Reservoir, barricades and police officers were placed along strategic points.

Bypass Planned for Leaky New York Aqueduct

New York City plans to build a three-mile-long tunnel to divert water from a leaking aqueduct that carries from the Catskills about half of the city’s drinking water, officials announced on Friday.

Working on the Rondout-West Branch Tunnel of the Delaware Aqueduct in 1942.
Cracks have caused flooding in Wawarsing, NY in Ulster County.
The New York Times
by Mireya Navarro
Published: November 19, 2010

Designed to last a century, the Delaware Aqueduct’s Rondout-West Branch tunnel had leaks a few decades after completion.

The tunnel, to be built under the Hudson River and parts of Dutchess and Orange Counties, will address a problem that has daunted the city since leaks were first discovered in the Delaware Aqueduct in 1988: some 15 million to 35 million gallons of water, coming down from the Catskills, have been escaping daily through cracks.

The tunnel will bypass the worst of two leaks, said Caswell F. Holloway, the city’s environmental commissioner. Construction work is expected to begin in 2013 and be completed by 2019 at a cost of about $1.2 billion, officials with the city’s Department of Environmental Protection said. Officials said that cost, spread out over nine years, was built into the department’s capital program.

For years, the city has faced criticism for its long delays in stanching leaks in two sections of a 45-mile stretch of the aqueduct known as the Rondout-West Branch tunnel, in Orange and Ulster Counties. The cracks in that branch, which was completed in 1944, have caused chronic flooding in the Ulster hamlet of Wawarsing.

Environmental groups accused New York City of dragging its feet, and a 2007 report by the state comptroller criticized city officials for failing to “adequately monitor the extent and nature of the leaks” and to establish “an adequate plan to protect the public in the event of a sudden or imminent substantial loss of water.”

New York City officials countered that they faced a challenge in identifying a way to halt the leaks while enabling them to get enough water to the city. Studies of the problem have involved sending robotic vehicles and deep-sea divers into the aqueduct in recent years to inspect and photograph the cracks.

Their plan calls for constructing a bypass tunnel at depths of 600 to 800 feet from Newburgh, in Orange County, under the Hudson to Wappinger, in Dutchess County. The aqueduct will be shut down for eight months to a year beginning in 2018, to allow workers to connect the tunnel in the last phase of the project.

“We’ve settled on a design for a fix, and we’re moving ahead doing that design and taking steps to address the leak,” Mr. Holloway said in an interview. The leaking portion of the aqueduct would then be sealed and its use discontinued, the officials said.

During the shutdown, engineers will also enter the aqueduct to repair smaller leaks at Wawarsing from inside the tunnel, the officials said.

The 85-mile-long aqueduct, among the world’s largest, is one of two systems bringing water from upstate reservoirs to eight million residents in New York City and another one million people in Orange, Putnam, Ulster and Westchester Counties. The other is the Catskill system.

The shutdown will require lining up other sources for the 500 million gallons of water that the Delaware Aqueduct carries each day from the Rondout Reservoir in the Catskills. About 290 million gallons would come from the New Croton Aqueduct in Westchester County, which is now used only as a backup water source until a filtration plant in the Bronx is completed in 2012.

The city plans to spend another $900 million in water supply projects to make up for the loss of the aqueduct during construction. It has already spent more than $300 million to prepare for long-term repairs of the aqueduct, as well as better monitoring of tunnel conditions and repair methods.

Designed to last at least a century, the aqueduct’s troubled Rondout-West Branch section, which reaches depths of up to 1,200 feet, developed leaks a few decades after its completion. In the Wawarsing area, the tunnel has cracked along a 500-foot stretch. At Roseton, officials said, the cracks run along 5,000 feet.

Mr. Holloway said the leaks had penetrated the tunnel’s concrete lining but were also found in areas where the branch passed through limestone, which is softer and more vulnerable to water corrosion than the harder rock of sandstone and shale found elsewhere in the tunnel’s path.
But the commissioner said monitoring showed that the amount of water leaking had not increased since 2002 and did not pose the risk of an emergency, like a collapse. “We don’t see a substantial risk of this getting worse,” he said.

In a statement on Friday, the Ulster County administrator, Michael P. Hein, called the plan “a real and substantive solution.”

“In light of the hardships being encountered by the residents of Wawarsing, time is clearly of the essence,” he said, adding that the bypass “will not only eliminate the problem for the residents of Wawarsing, it will have profound economic benefit to our area through job creation.”

Paul Gallay, executive director of Riverkeeper, said the plan was a sensible approach. “It’s a big investment in solving a big problem,” he said, adding that the city should also move to compensate homeowners affected by the leaks for damages suffered.

Mr. Holloway said that other solutions, like bypassing the entire Rondout tunnel altogether, had been considered, but that the idea was dismissed as unnecessary.

“We know where the leaks are and why,” he said.

Another possibility was to drain the aqueduct for a longer time to repair it from within, but that raised uncertainty about how long the aqueduct would be out of service.

“You want to know how long the water is going to be off so you know where the supplemental water is going to come from,” Mr. Holloway said, adding, “It’s absolutely critical to get it right.” (Related story HERE.) 

New York Water Supply ~ 1927

National Archives & Records Aministration film traces water 150 miles from Schoharie Reservoir to New York City. Water flows to the Ashokan Reservoir, through the Hudson River Tunnel and to the Hill View Reservoirs.

Ashokan Farewell ~ Jay Ungar & Molly Mason Family Band

Ashokan Farewell was composed in 1982 by Jay Ungar and written in the style of a Scottish lament. Shortly after a Fiddle & Dance Camp had come to an end for the season, he was feeling a great sense of loss and longing for the music, the dancing and the community of people that had developed at Ashokan that summer.

Filmmaker, Ken Burns, used it in his PBS series, The Civil War.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Buckhorn Lake ~ Bowlingtown, KY

Thanks to Tiffany Scharbrough for bringing this Ghost Lake to my attention and for sharing this story:

My mother and her family were born in Bowlingtown, KY. It was a small community, divided by a river with a swinging bridge connecting the two sides of the community. In the 1950s, a dam was built at Buckhorn, KY to keep flooding from reaching Hazard. (As a matter of fact, during the famous flood of 1957 men from Hazard held the dam rangers at gunpoint to keep them from opening the flood gates.)

North End of Main St. During Flood of 1957.The Post Office can be seen on the right. 
My mother was born in 1963 and I think they moved away when she was 5. So the official flooding of the town happened in late 1958 or 59. Many families settled in Madison County others followed jobs to Indiana and Ohio.

After moving the families out, my mother's uncle remained in Bowlingtown, disassembling the homes and reassembling them up the mountain on higher ground. There's a family cemetery where many in my family still choose to be buried, necessitating one final boat ride and a steep climb to their resting place. Other cemeteries were moved.

Another of my mother's uncles built wooden replicas of the entire community. These are on display at the Buckhorn Lake Lodge. Unfortunately he couldn't do an exact layout of the town, but each home/building is labelled with the names of the families who lived there.

When the water's down, you can find the remains of homes. I've seen on several occasions the basement of the house where my mother lived. The stones were brought down from the mountain and placed by hand by her uncles.

Several times during the year, the residents (and/or their descendants) come back to Buckhorn Lake Lodge, which has beautiful scenery. Some have kept up the homes that were moved and use them as cabins and cottages. Generally, on Labor Day, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July you'll find a gathering of Bowlingtown's own.

The Lost Community of Bowlingtown
by Jewell Gordon

Long before Buckhorn Lake was created and the state park established in 1964, a small community flourished for many generations here, along the middle fork of the Kentucky River. Early records refer to this area as the Bowling District, founded by Reverend Jesse Boling, his wife Mary Pennington, Reverend Duff and 50 other families. They were led to this remote area under the guidance of Daniel Boone.

By the late 1800's Bowlingtown was a thriving community of hundreds. There was a post office, school, churches, grocery, saw mill, blacksmith and the Frontier Nursing Service. Local officials included a sheriff, magistrate, justice of the peace and tax commissioner. The citizens were primarily farmers and coal miners. They were known to be patriotic, honest, kind, and well-educated people. 

In 1960, when the construction of Buckhorn Lake began, Bowlingtown had to be abandoned: 873 graves were re-interred to Buckhorn Cemetery and families were relocated. All were sad to leave their homeland of seven generations. Continued HERE ...

Forever Home: The History of Bowlingtown, Kentucky


Interview with Ford Barge ~ 7 Dec 1978

Frontier Nursing Service Oral History Project
Dale Deaton, Interviewer

Click HERE to hear it.