I owe someone a BIG apology.
John B, who I hope is still following my blog, wrote me an email way back on August 24th. He’s an ex-pat from Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow, and has been sharing some of my entries with other ex-pats on Facebook. (I deleted my Facebook account years ago.) John B, I hope you continue to find some of my postings of interest and worthy of Facebook mention. He sent a winter scene of the dam in question. (If I get his permission to post the pic I will in a later entry.)
That being said, John sent me a long email about having found mill stones up the Pocantico when he was a child as well as the “failed” dam. He wanted to know if there were any mills above the cemetery and any dams around. I myself have seen mill wheels here and there; it seems like the area has a proliferation of mill wheels. (By mill wheel I mean the stone wheels used in the mill to grind the grain.)
I consulted Sara at the Historical Society and asked her about the Pocantico above the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. She told me that there used to be mills all the way up the Pocantico. Part of the river was marked on many maps as “Mill River” because of all the mills along it. The only way you can have mills is to have dams to hold back the water and channel part of it to turn the mill wheels. So, this would explain the mill wheels all along the river. As for the “failed” dam, I have a feeling that the dam was probably torn down when the mills were removed.
The Pocantico resembles a fast-moving brook, at least until it gets to the Philipsburg Manor mill pond, where it becomes very tame–except after heavy storms. After storms, you can see the water ripple from under the Route 9 bridge and across the pond, nearly reaching the dam. Actually, these new storms–a result of the changing climate of the planet–is now threatening the dam. The bridge across the dam has been closed for years; it needs repaired. These new, heavy storms, which used to hit maybe once every two or three years, now come two or three times a year. This is putting added pressure on a dam that wasn’t meant to handle so much water pushing against it.
Anyway the Pocantico, even after passing the mill, doesn’t move fast as it goes and joins the Hudson. A lot of the water from the Pocantico has been diverted farther upstream for different projects–agriculture, drinking water, what have you. So dams are no longer there because the mills are gone. People call this progress.
This is the first part of John B’s questions. In a future entry I will answer part 2.