This week's story is about the schools of "The Project," 14th in a series regarding the rural schools of the town of Lysander. These three schools were the Smokey Hollow (No. 13), Chestnut Ridge (No. 15), and Sixty or Potter Districts (formerly No. 23, then No. 18). All three schools were named for roads that ran at right angles through northeastern Lysander. All are gone now, victims of the great world war and the progress that followed. In fact, school ended early and quite permanently for the children of these districts back in 1942.
The Sixty or Potter School was founded in September 1846 near the border between Lots 60 and 61. The Chestnut Ridge School followed in November 1851, named for the road that ran to the large drumlin covered with chestnut trees. The Smokey Hollow School and Road both came later.
According to Pearl Palmer's "Historical Review of the Town of Lysander," an 1853 map "represents all the land north of Baldwinsville bounded on the west by the State Road (Oswego Road), on the east by the Sixty Road and on the north by the Phoenix Road (Lamson Road), as forest region. A sort of trail, which eventually became the Smoky Hollow Road, led from the village northward as far as the first railroad crossing," just past Patterson Road, known today as Hencle Boulevard. "That settlers occupied this forest area is proven by the facts connected with the alteration made in the boundaries of both District 14 (the old Root School) and the Sixty District in 1856, creating a third school, Smoky Hollow."
In 1893, the editor of the Baldwinsville Gazette & Farmers' Journal described Smokey Hollow Road as, "A piece of very good road, the finest, we think, in the town of Lysander." It was still a dirt road 50 years later when the Doran family moved there. Dick Doran said, "If you head north, ours was the first place on the right past the railroad tracks. It was inside a triangle formed by Smokey Hollow Road, Patterson Road, and the tracks. They used to call it 'thirteen acres.' When we moved there, they were both dirt roads. I can remember one winter when the plows couldn't get through. So, my father and the neighbors got together and shoveled just enough off the road so they could get the bobsleds down to the corner. He would hook the horses to a log and drag it up and down the driveway until he get it clean enough to run his old Model T to town. And, there was no electricity." Dick's soft-spoken sister, Ruth added, "There were no telephones either."