Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Ashokan Farewell II
At the beginning of the twentieth century, five villages were uprooted and submerged in a massive eminent domain project that employed tens of thousands of workers to build the Ashokan Reservoir, New York City's largest reservoir.
Jay and Molly Ungar live in the Town of Olive, not far from the Ashokan Reservoir. They wrote a famous theme to the Ken Burns Civil War series, "Ashokan Farewell". It is one of the saddest meoldies ever written, but like the Catskills its nostalgia is beautiful. The Ashokan Reservoir is nostalgic and beautiful, like the song and the Catskills themselves. There is a tragic history to the Ashokan, though, and perhaps this tragedy relates to the Civil War. Local historians note that Revolutionary and Civil War veterans' graves were disinterred and moved (some to a cemetary in West Shokan) when the City built the reservoir in the early 1900s. I noticed a video interview of Jay Ungar: