Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Village of North Pelham Saved From a Flood in 1903

The Village of North Pelham avoided a catastrophe in 1903. The quick actions of the New Rochelle Fire Chief prevented the calamitous collapse of a dam holding back thirty million gallons of water that would have rushed into the Village. An article published in a New York City newspaper described the incident.



New-Rochelle Fire Chief Organizes Party To Keep Dam Intact.

That the entire village of North Pelham was not wiped out suddenly in the storm yesterday and scores of people drowned was due to the fact that James Ross, Chief of the New-Rochelle Fire Department, prevented the bursting of a large dam containing thirty million gallons of water. The dam holds back the waters of a large lake on the estate of the late Major Bergholz. The dam is on Lathers Hill, at New-Rochelle.

Chief Ross got word that the spillway of the dam had become clogged up, and that the waters were beginning to break over the embankment. He jumped into his fire wagon and drove from New-Rochelle to the Bergholz estate, where he found that some boys had stopped up the spillway, and that the rapidly rising water had already torn away twelve feet of the earthworks across the top of the dam. Other parts of the dam were beginning to cave in, and Chief Ross, realizing the danger to the people below, rushed about the neighborhood and gathered a force of men. The men attacked the spillway with shovels and picks, and at the risk of their lives opened it up so that the water could flow through and relieve the pressure on the dam."

Source: Save Village at Risk, New-York Tribune, Oct. 10, 1903, p. 1, col. 4.

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