Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Kromme Kill Lakes

Indian Lake with iron bridge ca. 1900

The grounds of the Albany Rural Cemetery were, in the past, dotted with a number of small lakes.  Most of these ornamental lakes were made by damming the Kromme Kill and Moordanaers Kill, two streams which cross the Cemetery.  Another was made by draining a swampy area on what is now the South Ridge.

The image above shows one of them - Indian Lake - circa 1900.  This was one of two lakes formed by the Kromme Kill in the ravine dividing the North and Middle Ridges.   Initially, Indian Lake was one large body as shown on the map in Henry Churchill's 1858 guidebook and in a later map dated 1871:

A still earlier view of the Cemetery shows another series of smaller lakes (Chieung Water with a tiny island romantically called Dreamer's Isle, Grassmere Lake, and Gloamm Water) further west along the Kromme Kill, but these all vanished between 1846 and 1858 as improvements and changes were continually made to the new Cemetery.

1846 map showing early lakes, including two on Moordanaers Kill

At some point after 1893, Indian Lake was divided into two separate lakes;  Indian Lake to the west and the larger Lake Bethesda to east.  A bridge crossed the water where the two lakes met, allowing visitors to easily stroll from the North Ridge to the Middle Ridge.  The bridge, with its lattice-like railings, appears in the photo above.  The water visible in the photo is Indian Lake, Bethesda would have been just beyond the bridge.

 1912 map showing the two lakes

In the mid-20th century, all but one of the lakes were removed by demolishing their dams and allowing them to drain.  At the time, there were concerns about the expense of maintaining the lakes and the possibility of damaging erosion along their shores.  Even after their removal, a combination of heavy rain and erosion caused a landslide along part of the North Ridge near the former site of Indian Lake.  Cypress Water is the only one which remains. 

There is very little left of the Indian and Bethesda Lakes now.  In the ravine, there are still hints of paths which followed the shores and vegetation has filled in much of the lakes' beds.  There are still remnants of the old dam and, if one looks down into the ravine from the Middle Ridge in the vicinity of the Delavan and Olcott lots, the twisted iron lattice of the bridge can still be seen.

See also:  Consecration Lake

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