2017 marks the passage of 150 years since a dam was erected at the outlet of Cranberry Lake on the Oswegatchie River. Originally a much smaller lake, the dam was built to help control the flow of water for downstream communities and their mills.
The groundwork for this was laid in 1865 when the state legislature passed an Act declaring the Oswegatchie River a “public highway.” This lead to the formation of a Board of Commissioners and the construction of the dam, which took place late in 1866. The gates were not closed and the water impounded until the spring of 1867.
According to local historians, the land was not cleared, and as the waters rose through through the trees that first spring, buds opened under water, and trees leafed out with just their tops showing, as the dam raised the lake level by over 11 feet. For decades, dead, dying and decaying trees stood in the water, making the scene somewhat grotesque. State Surveyor Verplanck Colvin wrote in 1873 of the difficulties in getting out onto the water to take measurements and elevations, due to the dead trees standing in the lake. » Continue Reading.