Administrative History

The maps are part of a storage and power study plan made in response to Chapter 569 of the Laws of 1907, by which the State Water Supply Commission was authorized and directed to devise plans for the progressive development of the water powers under state ownership, in order that these should be controlled and maintained for the public use and benefit, and for the increase of public revenue.

Upon passage of the law, the commission secured the services of an eminent hydraulic engineer, John R. Freeman, and they inspected the Sacandaga, Indian, and Genesee rivers and watersheds to decide upon which to begin the first detailed studies. The result was the decision to make a careful survey of the Sacandaga River for the purpose of building a large storage dam. The commission felt that such a project would decrease annual flood damage; provide a deeper channel for the Hudson, improving navigation and insuring more water for canal needs; assure a minimum flow of water to improve sanitary conditions; provide cheap power for manufacturing and stimulate employment in various industries; and provide income to the state because the use of falling water was more economical than coal.

The Sacandaga River rises in the Adirondack Mountains in Hamilton and Warren counties and drains many lakes. A great part of the watershed is forested land owned by the state and so situated that flood waters could be stored with a minimum of effort. At the Conklingville dam site the mountains come together closely and the river runs through a narrow valley to its confluence with the Hudson at Hadley. The topographic sheets show that the proposed dam would set water back to the village of Northville, completely submerging the villages of Munsonville and Huntsville and partly submerging the villages of Northville, Sacandaga Park, Northampton, Cranberry Creek, Vails Mills, Benedict, North Broadalbin, Batchellerville, Day Center, and Mayville, as well as about four miles of the Fonda Johnstown and Gloversville Railroad. They also indicate that the valley to be flooded consisted primarily of farm and swamp lands.

The thrust of the law and the resulting survey was to plan thoroughly before investing large amounts of money in an intricate business. Building storage dams requires detailed knowledge of local conditions and considerable time and effort to acquire the necessary data on drainage areas, stream flow and run off, geological formations, rights to be acquired, the establishment of benchmarks, and the manner and extent of drawing off water. The maps are the result of the survey to plot the area of land to be overflowed; take elevations to determine the flow line of the reservoir when full and the point to which the water could be safely drawn down; to select a site for a dam and powerhouse; to make borings and ascertain the location of rock formations; to locate a place for a spillway; to gauge the river and the streams tributary to it; and to measure the cap of the proposed dam and the amount of available flood water it would store for storage purposes.