The City of Rome and the Towns of Western and Lee will memorialize the Delta Dam in a ceremony on Sunday, Aug. 26, for its 100th anniversary.
A committee of volunteers has organized a day of events centered around the massive dam built to impound what would become Lake Delta. Events will highlight not just the dam’s construction but its place in local history, according to event chairman Ed Davis. Events will be concentrated between the dam and the state fish hatchery at 8306 Fish Hatchery Road.
The main parking area will be on the east side of Route 46, in the hatchery’s field, and those attending will be escorted across the road by Rome VIPS - the volunteer police service. Parking will also be available in the Delta Lake Inn parking lot and along Fish Hatchery Road (on the north end). Three local fire departments — Lake Delta, Western and Lee Center - as well as the state police will be on site.
The Common Council has approved closing Golf Course Road from the top of the hill at Delta Lake Inn to Route 46 the day of the event.
The New York State Canal Corp. has been working with the committee, noted Davis. He said crews have been cleaning up the dam site and opening the old towpath nearby.
The state office is also adding steel steps accessing the water for fishermen, an upgrade the will remain in place long after the Aug. 26 event, he noted.
A number of nature and conservation organizations will have booths, as well as other participants, including: the Tug Hill Commission, Tug Hill Tomorrow, Northern Oneida County Council of Local Government, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the DEC’s law enforcement branch and the Oneida County Tourism.
Frisky Otter Tours of Inlet will be present for kayak demonstrations, lessons, tours and other related activities. A fly fishing demonstration and discussion for stream and river fishing is planned.
For children and families, there will be an obstacle course and bounce house, as well as the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office car seat program. There is also live music planned. A complete schedule of events will be released later.
The Town of Western donated a rock to be used as a monument. Kellogg Memorials is mounting the plaque that will commemorate the anniversary. The text of the memorial reads: "In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the completion of Delta Dam. 1912-2012. Delta Dam was constructed to impound the waters of the Mohawk River to create a reservoir for the New York State Canal System. Construction started in 1908 and finished in 1912. The new reservoir was named Delta Lake in remembrance of the former Village of Delta. Dedicated this day, August 26, 2012."
Mary J. Centro, Western town historian and author of "The Lost Village of Delta," will be the master of ceremonies for the plaque placement event, which will take place at 2 p.m. on the west side of the dam, in an open field adjacent to Golf Course Road.
Over 100 years ago, the state wanted to improve the Erie Canal system, in part because low water levels in the summer could strand canal boats for days. To enlarge the locks and dig the canal deeper, an improved water supply would be needed. It would come from five reservoirs to be built, one of which would be north of Rome at the Palisades. In 1903, the project began and the fate of the Village of Delta was sealed.
The contract in Rome called for the building of the impounding dam, four new locks, the relocation of parts of the Black River Canal, a cement aqueduct, cutting of all trees and the tearing down of the Village of Delta. A 2.9-mile section of the Black River Canal and seven locks were abandoned, along with a stone and wooden aqueduct. Three new locks were constructed next to the new dam with a lift of 63 feet. There was a 205-foot long cement aqueduct constructed at the foot of the new dam to carry the Black River Canal over the Mohawk River. Another new lock was constructed at the north end of the new canal channel just past the aqueduct.
By August 1912, the construction on the dam was complete. Over the years the dam has been repaired several times. In 1985 the dam was re-enforced with steel rods to ensure it would stand for many years.