Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Clue to the Origin of Oakdale Lake

A few days ago, Gossips did a post about the 1913 investigation, conducted by the New York State Department of Health, into complaint about sewage pollution in Underhill Pond. That post prompted Jonathan Lerner, chair of the Conservation Advisory Council, to pose these questions in a comment:
In your exploration of Hudson history, what have you learned about the construction of the two roadways, which also function as the dams establishing (or perhaps enhancing) Oakdale Lake and Underhill Pond? Did the ponds actually preexist the dams, or were they instead part of a natural watercourse down through that canyonlike topography?
Tonight, quite by accident, Gossips discovered, in the Hudson Evening Register for January 9, 1916, the first bit of evidence to answer that question.

This little news item, which appeared on the last page of the newspaper that day, not only announces that skating is fine on Oakdale Lake and promotes skating on the lake, where the ice is "as smooth as a piece of glass," as superior to skating on the river, where it is "rough and windy," or on Underhill Pond, "where there is an open spot where ice is being taken out," but also, incidentally, reveals the origin of Oakdale Lake: "It's the artificial lake which was made this summer on the Farrand & Watson building tract just above Underhill pond."

Some sleuthing through the newspapers from the summer of 1915 seems in order.


  1. A fortuitous find, Gossips.

    According to H.P. Smith in "Columbia County At The End of the Century" (1900), before Francis Hardick died around 1742, he sold land to Jeremiah Hogeboom "including what became known as Underhill's Pond."

    According to Stephen B. Miller, in "Historical Sketches of Hudson," "in 1827 the road entering the city by Underhill's Pond was completed."

    Also in Miller's 1862 book, and sort of related, we read that "the first teacher employed by the Trustees was Josiah Underhill," in 1816. With Underhill as a fellow Trustee, the group acted as the first school board for Hudson, "for the purpose of ... establishing a Lancaster School for the gratuitous education of the children of the poor." The school was organized by the Quaker principles of the English educator Joseph Lancaster, who established the monitorial system of peer tutoring: "abler students being used as 'helpers' to the teacher, [etc]" (Wikipedia).

  2. Wonderful discoveries, unheimlich; especially appropriate, under the current circumstances, that HCSD would be helping revitalize a lake named after Hudson's first teacher.

  3. Oakdale is officially 100 years plus. So it seems that it was legally skated upon from November or most likely December 1915 until February/March 2014. By December 2014 the municipal insurance company that insures the city of Hudson discovered that people had been skating on oakdale and immediately made skating on oakdale illegal.
    This is a real shame. The basketball court at oakdale will have skating starting tomorrow but it saddens me that skating on Oakdale the pond will never be allowed again. This wouldn't be a great skating year because of the mild weather, maybe we can find a better insurance company in the future.

  4. "Underhill" refers to a person and not the location !

  5. Interesting..I was always under the impression that Underhill and Oakdale were at one time one body of water. and that it was divided when Glenwood Blvd was created. learn something new every day.