The Truth About the Towns Flooded by the Ashokan Reservoir
There may not be a more beautiful sight than the Ashokan Reservoir on a clear autumn day. The gorgeous sparkling water surrounded by some of the best foliage that the New York has to offer is a Hudson Valley gem. But it's hiding a secret.
Ashokan Reservoir in West Shokan, NY
The Ashokan reservoir was man-made, but it wasn't just carved out of the wilderness. In fact, many communities were destroyed in the building process. While some communities were physically relocated, others were simply abandoned and flooded. These are their stories.
Towns Relocated by the Ashokan Reservoir
Many towns that are located near the Ashokan Reservoir used to be in the reservoir, or at least where the reservoir now stands. Some towns, like Olive, were split in two. In addition to the towns that were moved, there were also thousands of graves that needed to be relocated. Historians estimate that over 2,500 bodies were exhumed and transported to nearby cemeteries to make way for the reservoir project.
Towns Flooded by the Ashokan Reservoir
While several communities moved, others were simply destroyed when they dammed the Esopus Creek and flooded the area. For many, the evacuation was a complete surprise, and some residents had little more than a week to completely uproot their lives before the water came to swallow their town.
Ashokan Reservoir History
In addition to town relocation and flooding, several other needs directly linked to the reservoir's creation affected modern history as well. The New York City Department of Environmental Conservation (NYCDEC), for instance, can trace its roots back to the reservoir when a police force (later to become the NYCDEC) was formed to maintain peace amongst construction workers.
If you've never been to the reservoir (or haven't been lately), it's a must-visit in the Hudson Valley. Roadside signs designate the former areas of displaced towns, and if water levels are particularly low, you may even be able to see the remnants of some buildings at the murky bottom.