Naturally, the dwellers between Ashokan and the sea have an interest
in the way this flood is held in leash. There are five and a half
miles of dams and dikes. The first line of defense is a line of
boulders embedded in concrete and a hundred and ninety feet thick at
the base, two hundred and forty feet high, and a thousand long. The
entire dam is a mile long.
The second line, of nearly five miles, is a dike whose heart is of
concrete, its flesh of earth pressed almost to the consistency of
granite. This runs along the south. To the east are other dikes. On
the west and north the Catskills form a wall rising abruptly from the
plain of three thousand feet.
Around this lake the State has built a road of great beauty. The
construction and the setting are beautiful beyond the first visit to
comprehend. Already its magnificence is known, and soon will be
justly famous. When the trees that are planted have grown, and when
the edges of the lake will have taken to themselves a wildness
consonant to the mountain setting, then the forty mile circle will
have become a part of every motorist's itinerary.
The Kingston people and the inhabitants of the by-lying villages must
feel themselves translated, after so long staring across a waterless
plain. With mountain-ranges, vistas of ravines, pine-covered points,
waters sacred to the sun and forever free from spoliation, the white
rites of the "veiled women" in the beautiful aeration
plant, the simple and straightforward architecture of spillway and
dividing weir, and ever the ribbon of road against the hills, --
nothing more is needed to minister to the eye.
There is much more than the eye can ever perceive implied in the
accomplishment of this work. It spells the highest sort of
triumph-popular cooperation with the genius of science. It forecasts
a wise middle life for our century, which is so rampant in its adolescence.
It is this triumph of civic enterprise that offsets the failure of
brotherhood abroad, in a measure. New York's great parks and roads
and citizen activities mean more than the things themselves. It is
something to have insured New York City's water supply. It is
something far greater to have employed thousands of men and handled
millions of public money without political scandal and without a
strike. Thanks to model conditions of housing, sanitation, food, and
recreation, the army of workmen preserved an unprecedented morale.
The morrow, we are told, belongs to the masses in their own right,
and not as a gift from the few. New York State has shown the short
cut to this morrow by using the faithful labor of the many, under the
direction of the few, for the good of all.
The scheme for New York's water-supply cannot stop with the Ashokan.
At Gilboa they are utilizing the Schoharie water, which will flow
beneath the mountains and into the Esopus at Shandaken. The other
Catskill water-sheds, the Rondout and Catskill, with their three
hundred square miles, will probably be added to the five hundred and
sixty-five of the Esopus and Schoharie. And then the Adirondacks!
Eventually the Catskills will be an immense pleasure park, as much of
the Adirondack forest is now, set aside for the health, wealth, and
happiness of the entire East. This does not mean that ancient
settlers will be disinherited, nor that the timber, the game, the
berries, and the fish cannot be used. It means that the great
encircling populations will have a place, large as luxury and rich as
nature, to recuperate in, where vandalism shall not intrude, and
where such things as constitute the commonwealth may be enjoyed by
all. May the Empire State continue to exercise her prerogatives as
wisely as she has begun!
We had sat for a while looking at the white lake stretched below us
before Brute asked:
"How many High Points is this we've been up?
"Well, I suggest that we do a little mountainnaming ourselves.
This grand-stand mountain is a kind of reserved seat for the
Reservoir show, and I call it plumb foolish to mix it up with all the
other High Points and High Peaks. What shall we christen it?"
"It is the lake's mountain," I suggested. "But we
can't smash champagne or liberate a dove."
"There's the bug dope. We might christen it with citronella."
But something better offered. Picking up the coffee-pot, Brute stood
in a reverential attitude by the "topmost rock," on which
he poured what remained of breakfast, saying:
"With these grounds I dub thee Mount Ashokan."
And so I hope the Lord High Surveyor may put it down.