The Legend of the Charter Oak
May 7, 2017
Chapter 1: Geography
June 2, 2017

Stevenson Dam, 2008. Zootology, Wikimedia Commons

Building Dams for Water & Electricity

There are places in Connecticut that have disappeared! Pleasant Vale is one place. It was part of Oxford. It is now at the bottom of Lake Zoar.

Oxford is on the Housatonic River. On the other side of the river is Monroe. To travel between Monroe and Oxford you have to drive over Stevenson Dam. Lake Zoar was created when the Stevenson Dam was built. Today it is a popular place to go boating.

Stevenson Dam is a hydroelectric power plant. The river rushing over the dam creates electricity. The electricity powers homes and businesses.

Construction of Stevenson Dam, c. 1917. The dam is part of a hydroelectric power plant. Monroe Historical Society

Stevenson Dam was completed in 1919. Pleasant Vale was near the dam. People who lived there had to move. Their homes and a church were flooded. The congregation built a new church nearby. They had to move all of the graves in the cemetery, too.

Construction of Stevenson Dam, c. 1917. The dam is part of a hydroelectric power plant. Monroe Historical Society

Pleasant Vale isn’t the only place that was flooded when a dam was built. In the 1930s, a reservoir was needed to provide water for Hartford. The Saville Dam was built on the Farmington River in Barkhamsted. Two villages, Barkhamsted Hollow and Hartland Hollow, were flooded to make way for the reservoir. 1,000 residents had to find a new place to live. The reservoir is nine miles long. It took four years to fill up.

Read more about the many bridges that crossed the Housatonic River between Monroe and Oxford and the village of Pleasant Vale HERE.

Postcard of the suspension bridge over the Housatonic River before Stevenson Dam was built. Monroe Historical Society

Did You Know?

Stevenson Dam isn’t the only hydroelectric power plant on the Housatonic River. There are four! The Shepaug Dam, in nearby Southbury and Newtown, is the largest hydro plant in the state. It was built in 1955 and created Lake Lillinonah. Find a map of the other plants HERE.

Many dams were built to power factories. Taftville in Norwich is one example. A dam was built there in 1866 to power a huge factory. Read about it HERE.

Dam holding back the mill pond, Ponemah Mills, 1958. HABS, Library of Congress, Cervin Robinson