Raquette River Dams Oral History Project Collection

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2014 - 2016 (Bulk dates)

This collection includes interviews, photos, and related materials documenting the stories and perspectives of people involved in or significantly affected by the building of a series of hydroelectric dams in the 1950's and more recently along the Raquette River in Northern New York, one of the most heavily dammed rivers in New York State. This oral history project was made possible by the support of the New York Department of State with funds provided under Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund. Project partners include TAUNY (Traditional Arts in Upstate New York), the Raquette River Blueway Corridor Group, the Village of Potsdam, and Watertown PBS.

The interviews represent a range of different occupations, geographical locations, time periods, and types of relationship to the Raquette River dam projects. The majority of interviewees worked on the dams or powerhouses and/or for the power companies, such as Niagara Mohawk and Brookfield Renewable Energy, which have run the hydro projects over the years. Occupations or activities documented include logging, clearing land, construction management, crane operation, security, pipeline maintenance, concrete-testing, truck-driving, engineering, representing citizen concerns, and “running the river,” or managing the hydroelectric assets on the Raquette. Interviewers spoke to some who were involved at the beginning of the major development in the Colton area in the 1950s, some primarily involved in later re-building projects in the 1980s, and some whose work on the river or in their related careers has continued until relatively recently, thus bringing a more contemporary perspective to the project. The project also included people who did not do work connected to the dams but could share recollections of ways in which the dam projects affected their communities and their own personal lives. These include individuals whose families lost or gained land due to the dam projects, operated businesses affected for better or worse by the boom in development, owned camps that were lost or had to be moved because of the project, or generally remembered changes to community life and to the river itself, as well as what it was like simply to witness the construction projects themselves.

Interviews were conducted primarily by Camilla Ammirati, Director of Programs and Research at TAUNY in Canton, NY, and Mary Jane Watson of South Colton, NY, in cooperation with Roque Murray of Watertown PBS.

Ed Boyd
Bernard Buckley
Floyd (Sonny) Campbell
Paul Caster
James Cayey
Al Chase
Ed Fuhr
Jim Hourihan
Dan Hurley
Richard James
Bill MacIntire
Jim McFaddin
Scott McRobbie
Jane Mousaw
Larry Mousaw
William (Bill) Mousaw
Mike Prescott
Jesse Readlynn
Don Snyder
Rex Spicer and Roger Murray
Susan Stoddart
Vivian Swift
Glen Thomas
Margaret Campbell Thomas
Eli Tracy
Clark Trerise
Clark Warner
Paul Watson
Arnold Wright
Betty Vebber

Creator and/or Contributor
TAUNY (Traditional Arts in Upstate New York) (creator), Camilla Ammirati (creator), Mary Jane Watson (creator)
30 (Interviews)
4200 (Photos)
28 (Hours)
English (Languages)
Geographic Coverage
Northern New York (-)