Since 2009, the aerator fountain at the Ashokan Reservoir -- a popular spot for picnicking, snapping photos or just getting a faceful of cool mist in the summertime -- has been out of operation. Today, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection announced that the fountain will be operating again by Sunday morning. From the press release:
Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway today announced that the fountain at the Ashokan Reservoir will be activated again after a two-year hiatus to replace valves that were more than a century old. DEP replaced two of four 48-inch diameter, 105-year-old valves that regulate the flow of Ashokan Reservoir water into the Catskill Aqueduct. The water that supplies the fountain is normally routed through New York Power Authority turbines that generate electricity for local power grids. Water has been bypassing the turbines and fountain since May 2009 to complete the rehabilitation work. The total cost to replace the 17-ton valves was $4.9 million. With the valve replacement complete, the fountain will be re-activated just in time for Mother’s Day, this Sunday, May 8, at 8:00 am.
To celebrate, we dug up a poem by Robert Underwood Johnson, published in 1920 in Natural History, the journal published by the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Johnson's "glad Ashokan towers" are no more -- the old aerator fountain was rebuilt in the 1980s, when two hydroelectric turbines were installed at the reservoir. Here's a rather blurry shot of the old fountains, taken around the time of Johnson's poem:
And here's Johnson's paean to Ashokan waters. Enjoy.
The Fountains of Ashokan
Henceforth what dream can e'er efface
Ashokan's pure and irised throng?
Not Dryads, nor the Dryad's grace,
Not Naiads, nor the Naiad's song.
Like ghosts of cedars, cool and tall --
They mount close-clustered row on row --
As white as when the moonbeams fall
Upon the newly fallen snow.
Yet they are not a thing of night,
But souls of nymphs that stand by day
Poised for a fellowship of flight
While with their robes the breezes play.
They live in light -- not spirits dire
That haunt the darkness -- not to harm,
But like a massed angelic choir
With songs of benison and charm.
For not of Death their waters speak
But Life, these glad Ashokan towers:
In heavenly ministry they seek
The city's human weeds and flowers.
Ah, could they flash their song and sight
To house and hovel as they pass,
How urban toil and care and blight
Would quaff new beauty with the glass!