The Catskill Mountains have been giving the gift of clean drinking water to NYC since the early 20th century, but that gift hasn’t been without some losses. To make way for the Pepacton Reservoir along the East Branch of the Delaware River, the hamlets of Pepacton, Union Grove, Shavertown, and Arena all went underwater in the 1940s and 50s.
The townsfolk knew it was coming, so the hamlets sold off their possessions and buildings for scrap, moved what they could, and bid adieu to their rural hometowns. It’s a poignant tale of what is often left in the wake of inevitable progress, explored recently on Atlas Obscura in a piece entitled “The Final Christmas of 4 Catskills Villages Flood to Create Reservoirs.” If you have some time over the holidays, enjoy the history of the Catskills, and are curious about what happens to graveyards when a town a flooded for a reservoir, dive into it. The past never ceases to be weird, particularly in the Catskill Mountains.