Looking Backward - Pheasant Dog Capital of the World Part I

Approach our community from almost any direction and you'll notice signs encouraging you to "Lock into an Experience." An obvious allusion to the location of Lock E-24 in the New York State Barge Canal system, the slogan was coined in the year 2000 to promote the resurgence of historic downtown Baldwinsville. Long before "locking into an experience," this place enjoyed a different distinction. But, we'll have to go back a bit further in time to find its former claim to fame.

In 1941, the Onondaga County Park and Regional Planning Board issued a booklet listing the local properties of the Onondaga County Park System. It stated that the "Lysander Plantation north of Baldwinsville comprises 50 acres of land, which were formerly owned by the State of New York and were used as a public dump. The plantation was deeded over to the county in 1930 for a nominal sum. It contains about 60,000 evergreen trees of various species and these have made a remarkable growth." Unfortunately, the plantation was repossessed just 12 years later.

Following the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war on the U.S. by Germany in December of 1941, Congress passed The War Powers Act. In the spring of 1942, the U.S. Army exercised eminent domain over an 8,000-acre area in the northeast corner of Lysander for the manufacture of ammonium picrate or "Explosive D," the active ingredient in armor-piercing artillery shells. In addition to the 50-acre Lysander Plantation, this 8,000-acre area consisted primarily of a number of small, family farms.

In March of 1942, the federal government evicted as many as 250 farm families from this area, bounded roughly by Route 31, River, Smokey Hollow and Lamson roads. Known first at the "Baldwinsville-Phoenix Army Purchase Area," and then the "Lysander Ordnance Works," locals eventually labeled it "The Project." After the end of the Second World War, about 5,000 acres of The Project were sold to investors or returned to the original owners, who had first rights of refusal. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the N.Y.S. Urban Development Corporation transformed about half of this 5,000-acre parcel into the "Lysander New Community," known today as Radisson. But, what became of the other 3,000 acres in The Project?

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