Hartford Courant, June 25, 1917
BIG DAM PLANNED FOR HOUSATONIC
Recent Charter Amendment
Allows Power Company
To Begin Work
COMPLETION WILL TAKE TWO YEARS
Many Estates Must Fall
Before Strides of Progress
A gigantic dam the object of which is to create an electric force for the Housatonic Power Company of New Haven is to be constructed about half a mile below Zoar Bridge on the Housatonic river. It is estimated that the undertaking will take two years for completion. The Housatonic Power Company received the charter for the work at the recent session of the General Assembly, but the enormous size of the plans was not revealed at that time.
The dam is to be 100 feet high and will span the river on a natural rock base which the Sprague and Henwood Company of Scranton, PA, has found after careful drilling for a number of weeks. As soon as the proposed location of the dam was decided upon, a crew was set to work sounding the depth of the rock.
Already the entire lake bottom has been laid out under surveying methods by the Birkenbine Engineering Company of Philadelphia.
Twenty-five square miles will be the extent of the water surface that will be held in check by the great dam, it is estimated; and the lake which will thus be created will run back into the country a distance from 12 to 15 miles. Portions of four towns will be inundated – Southbury, Oxford Newtown and Monroe.
Many estates will be literally wiped out altogether with churches, schools, cemeteries and summer camps. But in their place will doubtless be one of the most beautiful lakes in the state. Hundreds of acres of fine timber land will have to go, and many communities which have existed for years on the banks of the river will be forced to move to the hilltops.
The idea of a huge dam at this part of the Housatonic had seemed to the residents of the section but a vision. Now, however, they are suddenly brought to realize that their vision has taken on a very serious aspect. Some of them have rented their own homes for many years following purchase about twenty years ago by the power company. It will doubtless not be an easy task for some of them to change.
While the Housatonic Power bought most of the land some time ago, no operations for the construction of a dam could be started until the charter of the company was amended. The amendment which was recently granted by the legislature was backed by some of the foremost manufacturing interests in that part of the state. There will be no conflict between the power company and the present concerns regarding the supply of power to manufacturers, it is said.
The erection of the dam will create thousands of horse power which will be used as a much needed substitute for coal which has caused considerable concern with the railroads and manufacturers. With electricity from the Stevenson powerhouse, the quantity of which will not be equaled by any in the state, most of the trains could be propelled without coal. It has been estimated that more than 36,000 horse power will be released.
One of the most important direct results of the decision of the Housatonic company to build the dam at this location will be the construction of a state road from Derby to New Milford. It is expected that this project will be soon started. There is now a road on the east bank of the stream, and although it is considered important, it is not an official state road. This is due to the halting operations of the power company for the last two decades. It is now believed that the new highway will be built near the top of the valley on the eastern side of the river. There were some objections at first from residents of the section of the giant enterprise, but all seem to realize that it is a sacrifice that must be made in the interests of progress.