Dams are pretty 'dam' fascinating. Any attempt by human beings to control nature usually is.

The need for dams has existed nearly as long as people have been alive. Dams in modern times usually serve to generate hydroelectric power and provide drinking water, but their main purpose in ancient times was to mitigate flooding risks and help with irrigation.

There are some pretty old and noteworthy dams in New York state's rich history. Let's take a closer look at a few:


Don't let the name fool you -- "New" Croton Dam in Westchester County is still pretty dam old.


Completed in 1906, it replaced the Old Croton Dam, which was becoming inadequate at meeting the demand for drinking water in New York City's growing population.

At the time construction was finished, the New Croton Dam was the largest dam in the world, and the second-largest man-made structure next to the Great Pyramids of Egypt.


Located in Ulster County, the Olive Bridge Dam and Ashokan Reservoir was constructed between 1907 and 1915 and was pretty controversial at the time. To create the reservoir, thousands of acres of farmland had to be submerged, which impacted twelve communities that depended on farming, logging, and quarrying. Around two thousand residents faced relocation as roads, homes, shops, farms, churches, and mills were abandoned or demolished.


Another integral part of the New York City water supply system, the Kensico Dam was completed in 1917 "three years ahead of schedule [and] at a cost of more than $15,000,000," per Wikipedia. The dam itself holds a staggering 1 million cubic feet of masonry. The resulting reservoir serves as the collecting point of six different reservoirs in the Catskill Mountains.


Hinckley Dam in 1921 (Wikipedia)
Hinckley Dam in 1921 (Wikipedia)

Right in our own back yard is the Hinckley reservoir and dam. Completed in 1915, its initial intention was to furnish water to the Erie Canal. Today, it serves as a crucial municipal water source for people in the greater Utica area. It also provides hydropower, along with plenty of recreational opportunities in the summer.


Completed in 1926, the Gilboa Dam also serves a critical role in supplying drinking water to New York City. This 2,024-foot-long concrete gravity dam creates the Schoharie Reservoir, the northernmost reservoir within the NYC water supply system. Significant rehabilitation efforts were undertaken in 2011 to prolong the dam's service life.

Let's raise a glass (of water) to these OG dams of New York-- damming it up before it was cool!


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