Around the turn of the last century, James Reuel Smith documented and photographed the natural springs and wells of New York City. Why? Well, he was born into a wealthy family and was clearly interested in fresh water.
Most were in the northern part of the city where there was less development and drinking water piped in through the Croton Aqueduct was not as readily available. Smith rode his bike to these locations, and that’s presumably his ride in the photo below, taken in 1897. His kit includes a couple of leather bags attached to the bike frame as well as a rear rack, perhaps used to hold his camera. You can see a communal tin cup hanging on a branch of the tree growing next to the spring, as well as the flat rocks laid around the spring opening.
Smith’s interest in water sources was not limited to New York. In 1922 he published Springs and Wells in Greek and Roman Literature, their Legends and Locations. Springs and Wells of Manhattan and the Bronx: New York City at the End of the Nineteenth Century was published posthumously in 1938.
A while ago, I posted about the New York Public Library’s Map Warper project, which is making thousands of historic maps easily available. Well, the Map Warper project is still going strong, and here’s another map from their collection, which shows three small towns around Lamoka Lake. Taken from the 1874 Atlas of Schuyler County, the map also lists many of the farmers and other businessmen in the area.
Lamoka is a word that you don’t see used much other than for the lake itself, and the prehistoric archaeological culture found along its shores. Does anyone know where its name came from?
On early maps, including the 1829 Atlas of New York and the 1869 New Map of the State of New York, Lamoka is named Mud Lake, and Waneta Lake to the north is called Little Lake. By 1874, in an atlas of Schuyler County (see more of the 1874 Atlas here), Lamoka Lake appears on the map, although Little Lake is still used for Waneta. In the 1879 book History of Tioga, Chemung, Tompkins and Schuyler Counties, New York, “Lamoka” is used repeatedly, and Little Lake has become “Wanetta.”
I’m not surprised they changed the name – there are at least 30 other Mud lakes in New York, and Lamoka has a nice sound to it—but I’d like to know where they got the name from.
If anybody knows, or has any clues, please leave a comment!
That’s a low resolution map below, go to the NYPL Map Warper to see this in high resolution. The library is crowdsourcing the georectification of these maps, which you can also do at the Map Warper.
OpenCulture.com actually explains the georeferencing part better than the NYPL does. Essentially, you can can overlay the historic maps on modern maps, like in Google Earth. Yes, you can download them as .KML files.