Northville In The 20th Century
Northville In The 20th CenturyHere's another article from the late Carleton V. Nellis...
by Carleton V. Nellis
Northville in the 20th Century
In the two hundred years that the community of Northville has been in existence; the village has gone through several transition stages; taking every one "in stride," and adjusting to the new conditions.
For the first quarter century, the villagers were content to be isolated from the outside world, as the populace was self-sustaining. However circa1820, contacts with the outside were desirable, and a stage-line to Gloversville was established. The service was erratic, as the stage had to ford the Sacandaga River; which, at times, was not fordable.
Mail service to the newly established post office was also irregular.
The necessity to ford the river was removed by 1860 by the construction of the Northville covered-bridge. This was followed 15 years later by the construction of the Northville-Gloversville Railroad. This completely removed any hint of isolation.
We can surmise that the villagers were pleasantly surprised when the railroad, which later became known as the "Northville Branch" of the Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville Railroad, created an influx of summer vacationers to the Northville-Sacandaga Park area, which became a Mecca for those seeking a spot to spend vacation time, and thus, the village went through its first transition, from an isolated area to a summer resort.
Easily accessible by rail from eastern New York-State cities, the area remained popular for several decades, and created a booming economy for the community. In the village, nine hotels and several restaurants furnished food and lodgings for the vacationers. Many homes, too, furnished bed and board for the welcomed visitors. In Sacandaga Park, four hotels, many rooming-houses and restaurants made welcome the summer guests.
The arrival of the Twentieth Century brought many changes to the area, including the popularity of the motor car. With many families owning their own automobiles, their choice of resorts in which to spend their vacations expanded; and many railroad-owned resorts, including Sacandaga Park, declined in popularity.
The village's economy was not completely summer-oriented. Glove shops, a leather mill, lumber mills and the logging industry kept-up the economy of Northville, year-round.
The role played by the Railroad in the business of the area began to decrease in the early years of the century; as the automobile and the truck gradually replaced the rail line for contact with the outside world.
At about this time, the villagers began to perceive the coming of another change in the area. Hearsay reports were that a dam was to be constructed across the river below Northville; flooding the best farm lands, which were along the river banks. The reports continued and increased, and it became evident that the building of the dam was inevitable. The villagers adopted a "wait and see" attitude.
The first effect of the creation of the Sacandaga Reservoir (now called the "Great Sacandaga Lake," for publicity purposes) was to be beneficial to the area's economy. The many workers who were brought into the area to clear the land for the lake, created a large demand for food and lodging.
As the natives became adjusted to the idea of having a new body of water in their midst, they observed that the land which had so hastily been denuded of trees and buildings, was covered by the waters of a beautiful lake. They observed, too, that the wave-action of the water had quickly produced many sandy beaches, which they began to use. One newly-formed beach was at Sacandaga Park, on the former site of the amusement park's midway. Another was at the present site of Northampton Beach; where not only the beach, but the white-beech grove was enjoyed.
Almost innumerable campsites were created, making it necessary to construct roads to make them accessible. One of the first camps was the Seven Hills Camp, named after the seven hills on which: Rome, Italy, was built. Seven Hills Road was named after this pioneer camp in that area. This road replaced the former Northville-Osborn Bridge Road, which was covered by the waters of the new lake.
Perhaps an early thought by the natives and visitors, was that the, lake should be kept at a constant level. However, observations made by the same natives for several years, have suggested the benefits of the changing water levels. For instance, the changing levels kept the shoreline weed-beds from becoming permanently established. Another advantage of the level changes is that the lake, partly emptied during the winter months, is filled with fresh, clean mountain-stream water the following spring.
Carleton V. Nellis :