Friday, May 8, 2020

Canal History, Reservoirs, Chengo River & More

The Canal is really an interesting and important part of Eaton’s history.  In reality though...only a small part of it is in Eaton…but that small part was probably the most important part of it, as it is through Eaton that all the water for the main section of the canal flowed to fill it.  

The waters of the Leland Ponds, Woodman Pond, Lebanon Reservoir (once know as Kingsley Brook Reservoir), Hatch’s Lake, Bradley Brook and Eatonbrook Reservoir met there.  Yes even Lebanon Reservoir's runoff makes a turn and runs north to join the canal at that spot near Pecksport.  

If you stop at the bridge on 46 going to Hamilton and look back over the fishing section of the canal just off Wendover Road and glance east you can see where all the waters enter.

When originally surveyed by James Geddes it was decided that near this spot all the manmade reservoirs could be built above it and their waters could flow toward the Erie Canal on one side and south toward Pennsylvania on the other.  Today all the remains to mark the spot is a sign for NYS fishing.

In the earliest days of settlement, it was a special fishing spot for the Native Tribes who set up their summer camps at the flat spot up and down the ponds and near the Chenango.  Joseph Morse lived on that side of the hill before moving to Eaton Village at the turn of the century, his house foundation is at the foot of Hamilton Hill Road on the right... and family letters mention the children playing together.

The other interesting thing about the area was the ingenuity of Josiah Peck and his son Alonzo who dug out an area that would allow more than one canal boat to unload at the same time.  Alonzo who also ran the Chenango Canal Boat Lines, erected a large warehouse at what would become known as Pecksport... to allowed an overflow of goods to be stored from either the northern or southern routes.

Today there is nothing to mark the spot historically as the signs and historic markers one by one have disappeared.  This is a sad actually, as the vanished history was an important part of the canal which bought a number of new towns and new families to our area.. not to forget the coal to heat the homes with in this cold part of New York State..

The canal also served as the supply route to take goods out of the area.  Some of the regions largest businesses laid to the west in Eaton... the famous Morse distillery of Eaton, the factory of Wood, Taber & Morse Steam Engine Works, as well as the mills of West Eaton.

Too much history of our area has been lost to time... but the ponds of Col. Leland still provide a gathering spot for fisherman and vacationers who enjoy the waters charm much like the Native Americans did... since this area was summer quarters for many of them.

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