What Lurks Beneath
Steve recently forwarded me this story about how a few lakes in Texas have receded so far due to extended drought conditions that old ghost towns are now being exposed. Other interesting items have been discovered, including “a prehistoric skull, ancient tools, fossils and a small cemetery that appears to contain the graves of freed slaves.”
Of course, Connecticut has a history of lakes with interesting items belong them. One of our favorites is Gardner Lake in Salem where an entire house sits on the bottom, the result of an ill-timed transport across a pond that wasn’t quite frozen all the way through.
Although thousands enjoy the beauty of that state’s largest lake, Candlewood Lake, very few realize that it’s one of the largest man-made lakes in the state. Even fewer realize that when it was created, a lot of interesting things were left in place, and today still sit on the bottom of the lake.
In the mid 1920s, Connecticut Light & Power Co. decided that it wanted to build a hydro-electric, and settled on the over 5,000 acres of narrow valleys in Brookfield, New Milford, Sherman, Danbury and New Fairfield. Plans were approved in 1926, and for the next two years, the massive engineering feat was undertaken by 1,400 laborers. According to historian and scuba diver Ray Crawford in this story at the Housatonic Times online, thousands of acres of woodland was cleared, the Rocky River was dammed and water was pumped over from the nearby Housatonic River to help flood the area. By 1928, the lake had been created.
Apparently, in the zeal to get the project done, people who lived in the projected flood area were often forced to leave large possessions behind.
“When Candlewood Lake was created in the 1920s inhabitants were relocated elsewhere, but many of the buildings in the valley were left standing and a considerable amount of personal property, including a great deal of farm equipment, was left behind. The roads that connected modern day Brookfield and New Milford with New Fairfield were not torn up before the valley was flooded and Scuba Divers, with the aid of either of the two local dive shops in Brookfield, can investigate remnants of the pre-lake era, even following the roads underwater. Divers have noted highlights that include Model T Fords, plane wreckage from craft that have hit the lake since its creation, and covered bridges from the pre-lake era.”
A small village by the name of Jerusalem was also buried under the waters; it included a grist mill, a school and a few homes. Many homes were burned down to the foundations before the water came, although the foundations themselves were left.
In short, there’s a treasure trove of forgotten history sitting under the waters of Candlewood Lake. Keep that in mind next time you’re floating along on its surface.