The feat of engineering marvels in the United States during the course of the twentieth century was extraordinary. Though the construction of massive dams and reservoirs provide electricity and water to millions of Americans every day, the development of these came with a price. Here’s a look at the communities that will forever rest beneath the water’s surface.
Shasta Dam is the eighth highest in the U.S., and its construction on the Sacramento River created Shasta Lake in 1948. It submerged 47 square miles of land, including the towns of Kennet, Baird, Copper City, Elmore, Etter, Morley, Pitt and Winthrop. It also forced the relocation of Winnemen Wintu tribe members, whose roots in the area date to approximately 500 AD. Located about 11 miles from Redding, Calfornia, it’s free to visit the Shasta Dam, learn about its history and the towns that disappeared.
Although the completion of the Pickwick Dam by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 1938 reflected an era of progress in the region, several communities, including Waterloo and Riverton, succumbed to the demand for technological benefits. Once active centers in the state, today these towns exist only in memories, history books and under the Pickwick Reservoir.
By 1862, the Gold Rush in Colorado was in full swing, and small mining communities, like Montgomery, were sprouting up across the Rocky Mountains. The town boasted 150 cabins, five sawmills, three hotels and the largest dance hall in the region. The people named 14,286-foot Mt. Lincoln after the then US president and even sent him a bar of gold. By the late 1860s, the mine failed to yield any more of the precious metal, and the residents moved south to Buckskin Joe. The city of Colorado Springs bought the land in the late 1890s and constructed the Montgomery Reservoir, which flooded over the mining town.
In 1927, the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) began to purchase land in preparation for the construction of the Saville Dam, which sequentially created the Barkhamsted Reservoir. By the completion of the project in 1948, the waters engulfed the farming communities of Barkhamsted and Hartland Hollow.
In 1967, The United States Army Corps of Engineers constructed the Mississinewa Lake Dam, and thereby formed Mississinewa Lake for irrigation and flood control purposes. The completion of these five square miles of water took with it the small towns of Deaf Man’s Village and Somerset.
Since the development of the Long Falls Dam in 1950, the towns of Dead River, Bigelow, Carrying Place and Flagstaff have rested under the surface of Flagstaff Lake. The dam, which created Maine’s fourth largest lake, regulates flood control and the flow of water that eight hydroelectric power plants use along the Kennebec River.
The finalization of the half-mile Windsor Dam and its subsequent Quabbin Reservoir submerged the towns of Dana, Enfield, Prescott and Greenwich in 1939. Fortunately, the state moved historic landmarks, such as the First Congressional Church, before the flooding of the zone began, and further relocated approximately 6,000 graves from the four towns to Quabbin Park Cemetery. It’s no wonder that some say that the entire area is haunted.
Founded by Mormon settlers in 1865, St. Thomas became an established community of farms and businesses. In 1871, the residents abandoned the town due to a land survey that placed the area in Nevada. The state tried to collect the overdue taxes from the settlers in gold, but they refused and returned to Utah. Other settlers later claimed the land and dedicated themselves to farming and mining. Although after the construction of Hoover Dam in the 1880s and the rise in the Colorado River, residents had to leave the town in 1938. As a result of low water levels of Lake Mead, however, the ruins of St. Thomas, protected by the National Park Service as a historical site, are visible today. The town’s original cemetery is now Overton, Nevada.
At 190 feet, the Ashokan Reservoir is New York’s deepest and provides 40% of New York City’s drinking water. Upon completion in 1915, it forced the relocation of some 2,000 residents and consumed the towns of Ashokan, Ashton, Boiceville, Bordhead, Brown’s Station, Glenford, Shokan, Olivebridge, Stoney Hollow, West Hurltey, West Shokan and Olive City.
The state expanded its reservoir system in the 1950s with the Roundout Reservoir, which covered the towns of Eureka, Lackawack and Montela in 1954; the Pepacton Reservoir, which supplies 25% of the daily flow of water into New York City, affected 974 residents and wiped out the communities of Arena, Pepacton, Shavertown and Union Grove in 1955; the Allegheny Reservoir, located in both New York and Pennsylvania, flooded the town of Elko that same year, and the Neversink Reservoir destroyed the town of the same name as well in 1955.
Water from the Cannonsville Reservoir, which submerged the community of Cannonsville, began flowing into New York City’s distribution system in 1964.
The development of the Allegheny Reservoir left two state towns under water: Corydon and Kinzua, while the Marsh Creek Dam erased Milford Mills off the map.
Four towns are underwater due to the state’s system of reservoirs: Connersville is below Electric Lake, the Jordanelle Reservoir flooded Hailstone and Kettles; the Flaming Gorge Reservoir covered Lynnewood, and the waters of the Lockport Reservoir drowned the town of the same name.
The town of Vintage disappeared under Lake Wanapum upon the completion of the Wanapum Dam in the early 1960s.
The state has the most flooded towns in the United States, not even counting cities that succumbed to the might of the Pacific Ocean or Colombia River.
Though relocated, the original town of Arlington rests under Lake Umatilla; the backwaters of the John Day Dam inundated the town of Black; Cello is at the bottom of Lake Celilo; the Applegate Reservoir covers the former community of Copper; Detroit Lake and the Dorena Reservoir also consumed the original towns of the same name (the state relocated these two beforehand).
Homestead lies below the surface of the Hell’s Canyon Reservoir; Klamath Junction is under Emigrant Lake, and the communities of Landas, Lawler, Carter, Eula are deep below the Lookout Point Reservoir. Lost Creek Lake took Laurelhurst, Watson is under Owyhee Reservoir, and the Brownlee Reservoir eliminated Robinette.
Credit: Wikipedia, Ghosttowns.com
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9 CommentsLeave a comment
This is a very interesting topic and opened my eyes to several of the places in the post. I never really thought about the towns that may have been there before. N\But I will next time I go by a reservoir or dam.
I know. It is very interesting to know we have flooded so many towns. Glad you enjoyed it Cathy. I have been to several so far and I didn’t know anything about them back then.
Wow I didn’t know about these! So interesting!
There is another flooded town in Indiana under the Salamonie Reservoir known as Monument City.
Can’t seem to locate any information in the town flooded in Montana that became Clark Canyon Reservoir.
How many people were killed?
These towns were black towns…they killed our people and flooded the town
Boo…hoo… quit your bitchin
Where is the info about the Great Sacandaga lake in upstate NY? I have not requested this info before. Why don’t you show it?