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Interpreting the Evidence

Delta Dam, Near Rome, 1916

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    Central New York
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Delta Dam, Near Rome, 1916 in Main Image Viewer
  2. Load Delta Dam, Near Rome, 1916 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Delta Dam, power house, locks of relocated Black River Canal, a tow and change bridge, four miles north of Rome, New York, 1916.  
Historical Context
The village of Delta, New York, with its approximately 150 homes grew up around the Mohawk River.   When the Barge Canal was under construction in the early 1900s, the area around and including the village of Delta was selected as a site to build a dam and a reservoir to provide a much-needed source of water, especially during the dry summer months.  Besides providing water to the canal, it also helped control flooding in the spring in the city of Rome.  With the completion of the Barge Canal in 1915, the village of Delta was washed away.  

The Delta Dam and its storage reservoir form an artificial lake of about 4½ square miles.  The power house allowed the lock to generate its own power by means of a water turbine.  The tow and change bridge enabled the mules and horses pulling boats on the canal to cross from one towpath to another.  It solved the problem of canal traffic becoming tied up in the eastern part of the state due to a summer drought.

Essential Question
How does technology impact the geography and economy of a society?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and evaluate the impact of the canals on the geography and economy of local communities.
Historical Challenges
Were other towns also lost because of the creation of the Barge Canal?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science: How does a water turbine work? How does a dam control water flow?
English Language Arts: Create a piece of propaganda promoting the view to keep the village of Delta and stop work on the dam.