Lee has had its fair share of floods, something of an understatement, but two were particularly disastrous for the little mill town. On an early spring morning in 1886, while the townsfolk in East Lee slept, the dam holding back the fifteen-acre Mud Pond broke, releasing enough water to destroy several of the small paper mills in its path, and cause the deaths of seven unfortunate people. It seems the wall of the dam was highly inadequate, having no cement to contain it and backed only by gravel and earth. Fortunately, due to their higher elevation, the mills along the Housatonic suffered little or no damage, but every mill along the Greenwater stream was either badly damaged or destroyed. Eighty-two years later, Mud Pond was again the site of another dam burst, causing a similarly catastrophic flood. It seemed the lessons of the previous flood had not been learned. Water appears to have been as much a major source of damage to the little mill town as it has a beneficial source of energy to power the mills which it has then destroyed. How ironic! The number of dams breaking would indicate a certain lack of hydro engineering knowledge at the time. Two houses were destroyed by a dam collapsing at Laurel Lake after a storm. And the dam at Goose Pond had to be reinforced during a storm in 1938 to avoid yet another major flood.
To learn more of the details of Lee’s floods and the steps taken to prevent them by the Flood Control Committee, hit the “More” button.