Historical Landscapes          Hightop Mountain and the Ashokan Reservoir

                    Hightop Ashokan
                                  Hightop Mountain & the Ashokan Reservoir    2003, Oil on canvas, 16 X 20"

The Ashokan Reservoir was the last and largest of the “handmade” dams.  Begun in 1909 it was officially finished in 1916.  It was built to supply water to New York City (100 miles away).  11 villages and hamlets had to be relocated and the whole area was cleared right down to the dirt, which was very distressing to the 2,250 displaced inhabitants.  It took almost 4 years to build and over 2 years to fill.

 

Church's paintingFrederic Church (1826-1900) was one of the most famous of the Hudson River School artists who painted many scenes in the Catskill area. 
The last sizable painting Church painted took over 5 years to complete. The figure canoeing toward the shore is said to be Church. 

Mount Katahdin is the tallest mountain (5,268 ft.) in the East Cost.  It marks the northern end of the Appalachian Trail, which was begun in 1920. 

                                             Frederic Church  Mount Katahden from Millinocket Camp, 1895. O/c,  26 X 42”

Ashokan means “place of many fishes”.  When the glaciers receded, around 9000 BC, they left the Ashokan valley as a glacial lake because the exiting waterway was filled with debris.  The constantly melting glacial runoff relentlessly wore away at the rocks and moraines, cutting through the sandstone and shale on its way to the Hudson and draining the lake.  Thus, this reservoir, with its 40 miles of shoreline, is actually a return to what Nature had previously created.

Further reading:
The Last of the Handmade Dams, by Bob Steuding,  Purple Mountain Press, 1985.

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