Historical markers to be placed along Sacandaga

Lauren Roberts, Saratoga County Historian, presented the 15 markers on Thursday that will be placed throughout the area around the Great Sacandaga Lake. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

MAYFIELD — To celebrate the documentary, “Harnessing Nature: Building the Great Sacandaga” and to highlight the history of the reservoir, the Great Sacandaga Lake Advisory Council unveiled 15 historic markers on Thursday at the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District, to be placed in significant locations around the GSL.

After the success of the council-funded 2017 documentary “Harnessing Nature: Building the Great Sacandaga” brought renewed public interest to the history of the reservoir, the GSLAC funded a proposal by Saratoga County Historian Lauren Roberts for 15 historical markers to be placed around the lake at locations significant to the history of the Sacandaga Reservoir Project.

The 15 historic markers unveiled and their locations include: Dam Built 1930 located in the town of Hadley; Conklingville, Day Center and Huntsville located in the town of Day; the Historic Bridge located in the town of Edinburg; The Spillway located in the village of Northville; the Sacandaga Park midway entrance, Sport Island, Sacandaga Park auto entrance, Obsorn’s Bridge and Old Fish House located in the town of Northampton; Cranberry Creek, Mayfield Lake and Munsonville located in the town of Mayfield; and Benedict located in the town of Broadalbin.

“We’re here today to view the actualization of 15 historical markers first proposed by Lauren Roberts, Saratoga County Historian and consequently approved by the advisory council October 2018,” said Henry Hughes, chair of the GSLAC. “These markers are a continuation of the council’s efforts to highlight the significance of previous to and following the construction of the Sacandaga Reservoir later known as the GSL. You’ll recall that the GSLAC funded th making of the documentary ‘Harnessing Nature: Building The Great Sacandaga’ which has been received with great acclaim.”

Jason Kemper, GSLAC treasurer, said the goal behind creating the documentary was to give a better understanding on the sacrifices made by families in the valley, and to make sure there was something to clearly portray the monumental construction of the reservoir and flooding of this valley.

“I believe we’ve accomplished that goal whether it’s a high school student asking to do research, a mom I see at Stewart’s or a teacher looking to include the history of the lake in their curriculum, there’s definitely renewed interest from the young people around the area on the history of this lake,” Kemper said.

Roberts said while working on the film, it was brought to her attention that there was a lack of public signage and historic markers acknowledging what was once there before the lake.

Therefore, she made the proposal to the council for the historic markers in which they approved.

“It took me a little bit longer than I thought it would take, but I’m glad that this has become a comprehensive project and we have these 15 markers here,” Roberts said.

Roberts thanked each town and village historian for their input on the historic markers and where each one should be located.

“I appreciate their help,” she said.

All 15 markers were cast by Catskill Castings. Markers such as these are recognizable throughout the state. Each marker is blue with yellow writing, to signify the marker is placed at a historic site. Roberts said each of the markers has five lines of text with 27 characters that includes spaces.

Roberts said those visiting the sites of the 15 historic markers should take into consideration that most of these sites are actually under water.

“When you’re figuring out land locations, we did the best we could taking into consideration where the former hamlets were located, where the current roads exist today, so that these signs will be most accessible for the most amount of public to be able to view them,” Roberts said.

The markers were given to the individual town supervisor and Hudson River-Black River Regulating district who have agreed to erect the signs in their individual locations.

“It’s encouraging to me when a time when many museums are closed and indoor activities are being canceled, having these historic markers erected in outdoor public places allows people to find them, read them and gain some understanding about what happened her 90 years ago and why we are able to enjoy this beautiful lake here today,” Roberts said.

By Patricia Older