Historic Moment: Work on the new dam and water line
BY Beth Batlle
Sometimes we take for granted the amenities of our peaceful little community. But peaceful was not the way Skaneateles Village was back in 1892.
According to the July 23 issue of the Skaneateles Free Press, two-thirds of the Genesee Street bridge had been removed seven weeks prior, leaving an unsightly mess and no work had been done to replace it. “There are so many water commissioners,” the paper complained, “that the work is in a muddle. Expensive delays and blunders have been made.”
The north half of the bridge was not completed until Sept. 10. Then work began on the south half. One can only imagine what traffic would be like in the Village today if there was only one lane across the bridge for four months.
Not only was the bridge to be replaced, the old dam was to be rebuilt also – this time two feet higher than previously. This increase was necessary in order to raise the level of the lake high enough to provide enough water to supply not only the Erie Canal, but the City of Syracuse, and the Town of Skaneateles as well..
Stone for the new dam came from J.B. Northrup of Northrup Corners, north of the Village. The lime came from the Carriagan’s in Skaneateles Falls and the sand from Joseph Stott. Teamsters with good rigs and strong horses hauled the stone for $1 per 4,500 lbs. The stones were apparently unloaded onto the Village streets. A derrick would lift them onto the dam.
The July 23 Press stated that Genesee Street, from Jordan Road west was nearly all occupied as a stone yard. Stone cutters, it continues, were at work on the south side of Genesee, within a few feet of the side walk. Not only was dust and noise a concern , passers-by needed to be on constant alert for flying stone chips coming from the cutters as they worked. Villagers could not walk on the north side at all as that was closed.
Meanwhile four freight car loads had arrived at the railroad depot. In all, there were 12 pipes, each with a diameter of 54 inch and each pipe 30 feet in length. They were to be hauled to the construction site by a traction engine. The Village trustees insisted that the pipes be hauled up to Elizabeth Street and approach the work site from the rear. This was necessary they said because if allowed on Railroad, Jordan, or Genesee Streets, the engine would frighten every horse on those streets.
In August a letter appeared in the newspaper signed by “One Grumbler. ” The letter says that Syracuse, as everyone knows, is accountable for the condition of the bridge. But who, they asked, is responsible for the piles of dirt, now turning to mud, on the main business street, the fallen down curb stones, and the long row of loose stones in front of all the stores. Rather than risk driving his horse near a store, he said he would “haloo” from the center of the street and ask for what ever it was that he needed to be brought out to him.
So, today when we feel perturbed about something upsetting in our Village, just remember those “good ole days.”