Sunday, January 17, 2016

Some History of Underhill Pond

Photo: Timothy O'Connor
Our attention was drawn to Underhill Pond recently by Timothy O'Connor's warning that "The planned expansion of the middle school will simply pour more water into the same ravine, which will add to an ever-growing delta in Underhill Pond."

By coincidence, Gossips today stumbled upon this news item that appeared in the Hudson Evening Register a hundred years ago, on January 7, 1916.

Lake Charlotte is now known as Lake Taghkanic, the name having been changed when the property was donated to the state in 1929 and became Lake Taghkanic State Park. The report that the Clermont Ice Company was harvesting ice from Underhill Pond recalls a post published three years ago on Gossips, inspired by a picture of wagon wheel that had been pulled out of the mud at the bottom of Underhill Pond, which was shared by Jack Connor, who speculated that it may have been at the bottom of the pond since the time when ice was harvested from the pond.

A comment on that post, submitted by Seth Travins, brings together the topics of ice harvesting and the degradation of Underhill Pond. Travins provided the link to the annual report, for the year ending December 31, 1918, of the New York State Department of Health. In a section of the report devoted to "Special Investigations," it is indicated that state health department inspected Underhill Pond on January 9, 1918, in response to complaints from the Clermont Ice Company about the pollution of the pond. The complaints cited "four specific sources of sewage pollution," one of them being "the effluent from the disposal plant operated by Mr. Weaver, serving about 15 houses on the tract known as the Fairground boulevards." (Leander Weaver purchased "Fairground Boulevard" in 1913 presumably with the intent of developing the area.) The Health Department's findings are reported as follows:
The water of Underhill pond is undoubtedly polluted, and the degree of pollution is such as to render the water unfit for domestic consumption in a raw state. The pond itself is, however, apparently not polluted to such an extent as to create a public nuisance nor to constitute a menace to public health unless the water were used for domestic purposes which is not the case at the present time. The effluent from the Fairground Boulevards disposal plant and the overflows from the cesspools mentioned above, while they contribute largely to the pollution of the pond, are not the only sources of pollution. The pond is so located that it receives the surface drainage from a large part of the built-up section of the city and also the drainage from the city ash and refuse dump.    
The state health department made a number of recommendations for improvements to the "Fairground Boulevards disposal plant" and made a few recommendations to the "city authorities." One of the latter was this:
That the board of health of the city make such orders and regulations as may be necessary to prevent the creation of a nuisance by the discharge of the effluents from the cesspools in the rear of the houses on Glenwood Boulevard over the surface of the ground, and require the disposal of sewage from the dwellings in question by more satisfactory means than those is use at present.
Those were the good old days.

Bing Maps


1 comment:

  1. Carol,

    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 pre-exist the dams, or were they instead part of a natural watercourse down through that canyonlike topography?