Drowned Towns (Book List)


I became fascinated by the idea of a drowned town when I read Peter Robinson’s In a Dry Season (1999) and Reginald Hill’s On Beulah Height (1998), both set in Yorkshire, England, and both crime novels whose plots feature towns that have been evacuated and flooded to create reservoirs.

A drowned town is a town, city, village, collection of buildings, or other place that’s submerged, inundated or flooded by water as a consequence of the building of dams and creating of reservoirs for water supply, hydroelectric power, irrigation, flood management, or job creation.

There are lots of real ones in the world, some of which are listed below.

And of course there are crime novels and other fiction books — for adults, teens, and children — written about the phenomenon, and I’ve listed some of those below as well. If you have additions, let me know!


Mysteries and other fiction with a featured element of intentional submerging, inundating, and flooding of towns, villages, cities, and other places as a consequence of building dams and reservoirs for water supply, hydroelectric power, irrigation, flood management, and job creation. The core of this list was developed by a retired librarian in Pennsylvania, with additions by members of DorothyL and FictionL in August 2006. The apt term “Reservoir Noir” comes from crime novelist Peter Robinson.

Some descriptions are taken verbatim, or in essence, from review sources such as Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal, and from booksellers’ descriptions.

Reservoir Noir (Crime Novels)

Alan Dipper, Drowning Day (1976): “The calm of a small Welsh town is shattered by the threat of annihilation. A vast reservoir already exists, poised three hundred feet above its rooftops, and now politics and greed demand that the valley itself should be flooded to provide water for new towns and industry. A tide of violence sweeps in from outside, and the people prepare to fight for their future.” Listed in Allen Hubin’s Crime Fiction II. 207 pp.

Eileen Dunlop, Valley of the Deer (1989): Young Adult. Set in Scotland. In 1964, 14-year-old Anne is living in a valley near Dumfries that is about to be flooded to make a reservoir, while her archaeologist parents excavate an ancient burial mound. When she finds an old family Bible behind a secret door in her house, she’s led on a quest to solve the mystery surrounding the death in 1726 of a young Scottish woman, Alice Jardyne, accused of witchcraft. 139 pp.

Lee Harris, Christening Day Murder (1993): Set in New York state. Thirty years ago, the inhabitants of Studsburg, N.Y., relocated when the town was flooded to create a reservoir. Now that drought has left the small town temporarily high and dry, former nun Christine Bennett (in town for a baby christening) discovers the remains of a young woman hidden in the Catholic church (from PW review). 213 pp.

Reginald Hill, On Beulah Height (1998): Set in Yorkshire, England. Dalziel and Pascoe mystery. Fifteen years ago, the village of Dendale suffered double tragedies: three children were kidnapped, never to be found, while a fourth barely escaped with her life. Then the government forced the villagers to evacuate Dendale so they could flood its homes and shops to create a new reservoir. Now, a seven-year-old girl from Danby, the village where most of the Dendale’s inhabitants retreated, disappears (from Booklist review). Excellent. 374 pp.

James D. Landis, The Taking (2003): Set in Massachusetts. Swift River Valley is doomed: set to disappear beneath the waters of the Quabbin reservoir. Jeremy Treat is the town minister, a man of deep faith trying to inspire hope in a place destined to be taken from its inhabitants. He is also the husband of Una, a voluptuous eccentric pining for her first love, and father of Jimmy, a seemingly perfect child prodigy. Into this tight-knit family comes Sarianna, a romantic student obsessed by the story of the Valley. Her ensnarement in the secrets and desires of the Treat family is the basis for this stunning gothic novel of sexual awakening, shifting identity, loss and love. Published in the UK as The Valley (2006).

Jane Langton, Emily Dickinson Is Dead (1984): Set in Massachusetts, at a poetry symposium in Amherst. Describes the 1939 flooding of the towns of Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott to create the Quabbin Reservoir. One of her characters stuffs a body down Shaft 12 on the Hardwick shoreline of the reservoir. 247 pp.

Julia Wallis Martin, A Likeness in Stone (1997): Set near Oxford, England. A killer strikes again when long-dead victim Helena Warner surfaces from the bottom of a reservoir, and her three closest friends continue to maintain an eerie silence as Bill Driver tries to uncover their dark secret. Excellent. 280 pp.

Sharyn McCrumb, Zombies of the Gene Pool (1992): Set in eastern Tennessee. Mystery/science fiction. In the 1950s, a group of eight young men buried a time capsule containing their science fiction stories and other artifacts of the time. A dam was later built on the Watauga River, and a lake, Gene C. Breedlove Lake (known as the Gene Pool), formed over the place where the time capsule was buried. Now the lake must be drained for dam repairs. Since some of the eight men, who are now elderly, have become famous, the time capsule will be dug up. A writer who was supposed to have died 30 years earlier shows up, and when he is killed, science fiction writer Jay Omega sets out to discover who the killer is. 274 pp.

Michael Miano, The Dead of Summer (1999): Set in Connecticut. New York TV writer Michael Carpo vacations annually in the small town of Bridgewater, Conn., at the house of his friend, elderly African-American writer Jack Crawford — but this year Carpo arrives to find him dead. It looks like suicide, but then Carpo learns that the village’s older residents are dying at a suspiciously fast clip. The deceased, it turns out, are all linked to a ghost town submerged by a recently constructed lake. Carpo must find out who wanted them dead, and why, before the last of the lost town’s survivors disappear (from PW review). 224 pp.

Ron Rash, One Foot in Eden: A Novel (2002): Set in Seneca, South Carolina. This debut novel combines a murder mystery with the occasion of the flooding of a South Carolina Appalachian valley by Carolina Power. The real Santee-Cooper Reservoir is mentioned. 240 pp.

Rick Riordan, The Devil Went Down to Austin (2002): Set near and under Lake Travis in Austin. As Riordan says in an interview: ” When Mansfield Dam was built, and they flooded the area, you think that it all washes away, but it doesn’t. There really are pecan groves down there still, and they say they even have the pecans on the trees — the last pecans they ever grew. And barbed wire fences. What the land was like until it was taken and flooded.” The book includes the description of a dive into the preserved pecan orchard at the bottom of the lake. [Thanks, Kathleen!]

Peter Robinson, In a Dry Season (1999): Set in Yorkshire, England. When a drought drains the local Thornfield Reservoir, uncovering the long-drowned village of Hobbs End and the skeleton of a murder victim from the 1940s, Detective Alan Banks and Detective Sergeant Annie Cabot investigate the decades-old crime, with quite a bit of WWII ambiance and history involved. Excellent. 422 pp.

Lisa See, Dragon Bones (2003): Liu Hulan, an agent for China’s Ministry of Public Security, and her American husband return to investigate murder and archaeological theft at the Three Gorges Dam, one of the most beautiful and controversial places on earth. When completed, the Three Gorges Dam will be the most powerful dam ever built and the biggest project China has undertaken since the building of the Great Wall. Yet, the reservoir formed by the dam will inundate over 2,000 archaeological sites and displace over 2 million people. 368 pp.

Paul Somers (aka Paul Winterton), Broken Jigsaw (1961): Set in England. An adulterous couple murder her rich husband and hide his body in a sinkhole that’s about to be covered by the reservoir that will also drown the village of Alton. Two years later, a drought causes the reservoir to recede and the body must be retrieved and rehidden — but in the meanwhile a nearby cottage has been rented by a writer who never seems to leave it and who is sure to observe such activities.

Julia Spencer-Fleming, Out of the Deep I Cry: A Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mystery (2004): Set in upstate NY. Crime novel that intertwines storylines from the 1930s, 1970s, and present. The 1930 storyline involves the building of the Conklingville Dam and the flooding of forty square miles of the Sacandaga River Valley, creating the Great Sacandaga Lake as well as Stewart’s Pond, which is a focus of this story. When the flooding occured, many residents of the area were relocated to fictitious Miller’s Kill, where this series is set. 336 pp.

Donald Westlake, Drowned Hopes (1990): Set in upstate New York. John Dortmunder’s ex-cellmate, Tom Jimson, asks Dortmunder’s help in reclaiming a $700,000 stash from an old robbery. The cash was buried in an upstate New York town that was subsequently flooded to become part of New York City’s reservoir system. Jimson’s plan to blow up the reservoir dam will doom nearby towns, so Dortmunder must concoct a more humane solution (from PW review). 418 pp.

John Morgan Wilson, Rhapsody in Blood: A Benjamin Justice Novel (2006): Set in California. In 1956, glamorous film star Rebecca Fox was murdered in the Eternal Springs Hotel in the Calif. desert. A young African-American man was blamed for the murder and was lynched by an angry mob led by the KKK, though new DNA evidence indicates that he may have been innocent of the crime. The government has since damned the valley for hydroelectric power and the waters of Lake Enid now cover the town where the vicious killing took place. Benjamin Justice accepts an offer from a reporter friend to spend a relaxing weekend at the Haunted Springs Hotel and becomes involved in both the old murder and current-day danger. 288 pp.

Stuart Woods, Under the Lake (1987): Set in Sutherland, Georgia, “a charmingly reconstructed town on a man-made lake.” Investigative reporter John Howell becomes obsessed with the dark secrets of a local family that vanished after their farm was flooded a quarter-century earlier. 281 pp.


Other Drowned Town Fiction

Mabel Esther Allan, Pendron Under the Water (1961):Juvenile fiction, set in the UK. When Pendron villlage is drowned to form a reservoir, all the villagers except one take the date stones from their cottages. The story is about the recovery of that missing stone one summer when the reservoir is very low because there is no rain.

Andrea Barrett, The Forms of Water (1993): Set in Massachusetts. At 80, Brendan Auberon, a former monk, is confined to a wheelchair in a nursing home. His last wish is to see the 200 acres of woodland where his family home once stood. Half a century ago, the owners of the land were evicted from their homes and the land was flooded to create a reservoir which would provide water for the big city. Brendan convinces his staid nephew Henry to hijack the nursing home van to make this ancestral visit.

John Blackburn, Bury Him Darkly (2013): An English manor house is about to be submerged under a new reservoir as part of a planned water project. The house contains the tomb of its two-centuries-dead (or is he?) previous owner — a poet/artist/occultist whose late artistic flowering is suspected of being caused by a demonic bargain — as well as most of his work.

Berlie Doherty, Deep Secret (2004): Young Adult. Set in England. Haunting novel about twins and generations in a village which is to be flooded to create a reservoir. Based on real events of the flooding of the small villages of Derwent and Ashopton in north-west Derbyshire to make way for the building of the Ladybower reservoir supplying water to Sheffield, Leicester, Derby and Nottingham. 264 pp.

Ivan Doig, Bucking the Sun (1996): Set in northwestern Montana. A Depression-era narrative largely devoted to the problems of building the Fort Peck Dam, which created a reservoir 135 miles long, provided flood control and was the biggest earth-fill dam in the world at the time. It focuses on the fictional Duff family and their roles in the mammoth dam project, and in the process describes the working conditions and way of life of the thousands of workers hired to construct the Fort Peck Dam, many of them homesteaders from upriver farms destined to disappear under the waters of the newly formed Fort Peck Lake (summary from Wikipedia). There are two murders, but the book is not essentially a mystery. 412 pp.

Sylvia Fair, The Ivory Anvil (1974UK/1977US) Juvenile fiction, set in the UK. A piece of a 3-D cube puzzle is found in a submerged village that that dries out during a heatwave.

Sarah Hall, Haweswater (2002): Set in Cumbria, England. Won UK’s Commonwealth Prize. Debut novel is set in 1936 in remote Marsdale village in the Lake District, and tells of the flooding of the dale to make way for a reservoir, against the wishes of many of the local hill farmers. When Waterworks representative Jack Ligget from industrial Manchester arrives with plans to build the new reservoir, he brings the much feared threat of impending change to this bucolic hamlet. And when he begins an intense and troubled affair with Janet Lightburn, a devout local woman, it leads to scandal, tragedy, and remarkable, desperate acts.

Mollie Hunter, The Walking Stones: A Story of Suspense (1970; illus Trina Schart Hyman). Ages 9-12. Set in the Scottish Highlands. Paranormal thriller. After receiving the gift of Second Sight from his old friend,the Bodach, ten-year-old Donald becomes responsible for safeguarding the ancient power of the walking stones before their glen is flooded by a hydroelectric company. 143 pp.

Jackie French Koller, Someday (2002): Ages 9-12. Set in Massachusetts. Fourteen-year-old Celie lives in Enfield, Mass. in 1938 and her town, along with three others, is to be flooded to create a reservoir. All the families have to move from their homes, but Celie’s Gran refuses to do so. Celie’s mother is angry with Gran and says she should face reality, but that’s because Celie’s mother is a city girl and really wants to leave. Based on the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir. 224 pp.

Kathryn Lasky, Home Free (1985): Young Adult. Set in Massachusetts. Fifteen-year-old Sam Brooks and his mother have moved to her hometown in New England, mourning Sam’s father, who died in a car crash. Sam soon involves himself with a project to introduce eagles to an ‘accidental wilderness’ that exists because an entire valley, including four villages, was flooded to create a reservoir, forcing many families to relocate and leave their pasts behind. His work to save the wilderness helps an autistic girl return to reality and reveals her strange hidden power. 245 pp.

H.P. Lovecraft, “The Colour Out of Space” (1927): Spooky science fiction. Set in Massachusetts. Forty years ago, a strange meteorite struck the town and farms of Arkham, Mass. Since then, nothing grows right here (inedible fruits, anatomically incorrect animals, oddly coloured plant life, a sort of phosphorescence in the air), and people have malaise, insanity, bad dreams…. Something is sucking life itself out of everything in the area, and its reach is growing larger and larger. Now, the entire blighted area will be flooded and the citizens of Boston will be drinking water from the created reservoir. The entire story is online.

Sue Miller, The World Below (2001): Set in Vermont. The Quabbin Reservoir and Harriman Reservoir are not central to the plot but are mentioned seven times between pp. 209 and 270.
Michael Shea, The Color Out of Time (1984): Science fiction. Set in New England. Homage to Lovecraft’s "The Colour Out of Space." The flooded New England valley made a beautiful holiday spot, with twenty miles of secluded lakeshore. But visitors Gerald Sternbruck and Ernst Carlsberg soon realise that the still waters of the lake conceal a frightful evil that preys on flora, fauna, and human beings.

William F. Weld, Stillwater (2001): The story of fifteen-year-old Jamieson, a farm boy who finds first love with the unforgettable, dreamy Hannah. At the same time, life as he knows it is unraveling around him, as his town and four neighboring towns will soon be flooded to create a huge reservoir. Written by a former Mass. governor. 240 pp.

Jane Yolen, Letting Swift River Go (1992; illus. Barbara Cooney): Ages 5-9. Set in Massachusetts. Relates Sally Jane’s experience of changing times in rural America, as she lives through the drowning of the Swift River Towns in western Massachusetts to form the Quabbin Reservoir. 32 pp.


Real Drowned Towns

in the U.S.

Alabama: the town of Irma, under Lake Martin

Arizona: Alamo Crossing, a mining town now under 100 feet of water in Lake Alamo; town of La Laguna, under Mittry Lake.

Arkansas: Several towns, including Miller, under Greers Ferry Lake on the Little Red River (1959-1962); the town of Custer by Norfork Lake; the town of Fir by Lake Ouachita; the town of Hand by Norfork Lake

California: Hetch Hetchy Valley, a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in California, was flooded in 1923 by O’Shaughnessy Dam, forming the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir; Jacksonville, near Sonora, under Lake Don Pedro; Melones, near Sonora, under New Melones Lake; Monticello, near Napa, evacuated for Lake Berryessa Reservoir, and Redbud Park inundated by same; Heroult, Kennett, Baird, and Copper City, for Lake Shasta in 1944; the town Lorraine by Thermalito Afterbay; the town of Minersville by Clair Engle Lake; the town of Pleyto by San Antonio Reservoir; the towns of Foster Bar, Bullards Bar, and Garden Valley by Bullards Bar Reservoir; the town of Salmon Falls by Folsom Lake; the towns of South Fork, Bloomer, Bidwell Bar, Bidwell, and Enterprise by Lake Oroville; the town of Mussey Grove by San Vicente Reservoir; the town of Isabella by Isabella Lake; the town of El Capitan by El Capitan Reservoir; the town of Cedar Springs by Silverwood Lake; the town of Auld by Skinner Reservoir; the town of Hullville by Lake Pillsbury;
the towns of Lexington and Alma, for the James J. Lenihan Dam and Lexington Reservoir (around 1950), near Los Gatos; the town of Petersburg, under the New Hogan Reservoir; town of Picacho, mostly submerged when Laguna Dam completed 1909; Mormon Island in Folsom Lake, near Sacramento.

Colorado: Sopris, for the Trinidad Dam and Reservoir; McPhee for the McPhee Reservoir; the town of Iola by Blue Mesa Reservoir

Connecticut: the village of Barkhamsted Hollow, for Barkhamsted Reservoir on the Farmington River (Saville Dam, 1940)

Florida: the town of Butler due to construction of the Jim Woodruff Reservoir.

Georgia: the towns of Petersburg and Lisbon when Strom Thurmond Lake was created; the town of Oketeyeconne by Walter F. George Reservoir; the town of Hunt by Chatuge Lake.

Idaho: the town of American Falls, for the American Falls Reservoir and Dam (1910s-1920s); the town of Montour, for the Black Canyon Dam.

Indiana: the town of Monument City, flooded in 1965 to create the Salamonie Reservoir.

Kansas: towns under Tuttle Creek Lake on the Big Blue River, near Manhattan (1962; one town was rebuilt elsewhere: Randolph, Kansas)

Maine: the towns of Dead River and Flagstaff, flooded in 1949 when the Flagstaff Dam was built and Flagstaff Lake was created on the Dead River in western Maine.

Maryland: the town of Conowingo when Conowingo Dam was built in 1928; 1809 mill town Triadelphia, inundated in 1931 by Triadelphia Reservoir; the town of Shamburg by Prettyboy Reservoir; the towns of Dulaney Valley and Bosley by Loch Raven Reservoir.

Massachusetts: the towns of Boylston, West Boylston, Clinton and Sterling, for the Wachusett Reservoir (1897-1908); town of Dana, North Dana, Millington, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott, on the Swift River for the Quabbin Reservoir

Missouri: the towns of Theodosia and Forsyth when the Bull Shoals Dam and Lake was built on the White River in 1951; the town of Shawnee Bend, inundated by the creation of the Lake of the Ozarks by Bagnell Dam in 1931.

Montana: the town of Nagos, inundated by Lake Koocanusa; towns and homes near Glasgow, Mont., flooded by Fort Peck Dam on the Missouri River (1933-1940), created to provide flood control, hydroelectric power, and 10,000 jobs during the Depression — it is the largest hydraulically filled dam in the United States and created the fifth largest man-made lake in the U.S., Fort Peck Lake; the town of Armstead (inundated), plus Routes 91 (rebuilt as Interstate 15) and the main line of the Union Pacific RR, for Clark Canyon Dam and Reservoir in Beaverhead County (1961-1964), created for downstream irrigation and flood control; the town of Rexford, Highway 37, the Great Northern Railroad line, for Libby Dam and Lake Koocanusa (1970s).

Nevada: St. Thomas, under Lake Mead when the art deco Boulder Dam (aka Hoover Dam) was built on the Colorado River in 1931-1936, but due to drought conditions has been visible again since the late 1990s.

New Mexico: town of Paraje, submerged by Elephant Butte Lake when Elephant Butte Dam built, 1912-1916

New York: Neversink and Bittersweet, New York, now under the Neversink Reservoir; the towns of Olive, West Shokan, Brodhead Bridge, Brown’s Station, Boiceville, West Hurley, Glenford and Ashton (in the Catskills) to create Ashokan Reservoir; the towns of Beerston, Cannonsville, Rock Rift, Rock Royal and Granton, for Cannonsville Reservoir; the towns of Arena, Pepacton, Shavertown and Union Grove, for Pepacton Reservoir; the towns of Eureka, Montela and Lackawack, for Rondout Reservoir (1937-1954); the town of Gilboa for Schoharie Reservoir in the Catskills (1919-1927); the town of Southeast, on the Croton River (Sodom Dam), to create East Branch Reservoir, Middle Branch Reservoir, Bog Brook Reservoir and Diverting Reservoir (info and photos here); Concord, partially flooded in 1930 when the Conklingville dam created the Sacandaga Reservoir (now Great Sacandaga Lake).

North Carolina: the towns of Judson and Fontana, to create Fontana Lake; the town of Tuscola, inundated by the creation of Lake Junaluska and Lake Junaluska Dam. North Dakota : Sanish (Old Sanish), Elbowoods, Lucky Mound, Shell Creek, Nishu, Charging Eagle, Beaver Creek, Red Butte, Independence, and Van Hook (some towns are part of Fort Berthold Indian Reservation), flooded for Lake Sakakawea in 1953 (see photo of foundations visible above lake); town of Moe, under the Garrison Reservoir (1950s).

Ohio: the town of Elk Lick by William H. Harsha Lake.

Oregon:  the town of Arlington, in Gilliam County, relocated uphill from its original location to make way for the John Day Dam, constructed on the Columbia River (1958-1968) and creating Lake Umatilla, along with the towns of Boardman and Umatilla, also relocated for the dam.

Pennsylvania: the town of Corydon, and tribal lands and gravesites, flooded in the 1965 for Kinzua Dam and Allegheny Reservoir and in the 1990s partially uncovered due to low water levels; the town of Pritchard by Lake Cowanesque; town (Wilsonville?) under Lake Wallenpaupack (1924-1926)

Rhode Island: the towns of Kent, Richmond, Ashland, South Scituate, Saundersville, Rockland and Ponaganset, and mills at Clayville, Elmdale, Harrisdale and Glenrock, plus almost 1,500 graves (relocated), for the Scituate Reservoir (1915-1926).

South Carolina: the towns in the Saluda Valley, under Lake Murray (Saluda Dam, 1920s); the towns of Andersonville and Price by Hartwell Lake.

South Dakota: Bear Gulch II, submerged beneath the waters of Pactola Lake.

Tennessee: the town of Butler, in 1948 by the TVA for Watauga Dam and Reservoir; towns under Norris Lake, created by the TVA’s Norris Dam (1933-1936), for hydroelectric and flood control structure, on the Clinch River; the town of Willow Grove, for Dale Hollow Reservoir (1942)

Texas: Guerrero Viejo, a colonial town from the 1750s — which includes Nuestra Senora del Refugio, a historic Spanish mission — when the U.S. and Mexico dammed the Rio Grande to create Falcon Lake Reservoir in 1953; the town of Old Zapata, inundated by the Falcon Dam Reservoir; the town of Calliham, for the Choke Canyon Dam and Reservoir (1982) on the Frio River (flowing to the Nueces River); the town of Addicks near Houston for the Addicks Dam Reservoir (mid 1940s); the panhandle town of Saints Roost, under water in the Greenbelt Reservoir; town of Swartwout, inundated by Livingston Dam/Reservoir on the Trinity River; houses, farmsteads, orchards, and farms, submerged by Lake Travis with the Mansfield Dam (originally called the Marshall Ford Dam), on the Colorado River, built in 1937-1941.

Utah: Connellsville, under Electric Lake; the old mining town of Hite, under Lake Powell; the town of Rockport, under the Rockport Reservoir (1950s).

Virginia: the town of Greenwood, inundated by Lake Moomaw

Washington: 3,000 people (including Indian tribes) in the towns of Kettle Falls, Peach, Keller, Lincoln, Inchelium, Gerome, Marcus, Gifford, Boyds, Fort Covile, and Daisy evacuated for Lake Roosevelt, formed by the Grand Coulee Dam (1933-1941) on the Columbia River, which was built for the purpose of irrigation; the town of Moncton, submerged by Rattlesnake Lake and Masonry Dam on the Cedar River Watershed (1912-1915) to provide drinking water for Seattle; the town of Roosevelt, relocated for the building of the John Day Dam and creation of Lake Umatilla on the Columbia River (1958-1968).

West Virginia: the towns of Yates, Sandy, and Stone House, inundated by Tygart Lake; the town of Morrison by Summersville Dam.

For more: Immersed Remains: Towns Submerged in America has more history, and photos, of some drowned towns in the U.S.


outside the U.S.

Canada: the town of Minnewanka, Alberta, for Lake Minnewanka (1912; 1941); the mining town of Minto, British Columbia, for Carpenter Reservoir; towns of West Kootenay, British Columbia, including Arrowhead, Beaton, Needles and Waneta, drowned for reservoirs and power dams; the town of Upper Mill Ville by Mactequac Lake, New Brunswick; the towns of Mille Roches, Moulinette, Wales, Dickinson’s Landing, Farran’s Point, and Aultsville, near Cornwall, Ontario, for a hydro dam on the St. Lawrence River in 1958.

United Kingdom: the mill village of Goyt in Derbyshire; the towns of Derwent and Ashopton for Ladybower Dam; the village of Hambleton, inundated by Rutland Water; the town of Mardale in the Lake District, flooded by Haweswater Reservoir.

Australia: Old Jyndabyne Township, New South Wales, for the Jyndabyne Dam Project

New Zealand: Cromwell (South Island) partially flooded in the 1980s to create Lake Dunstan, to power a hydroelectric dam

Italy: the town of Fabbriche di Careggine, under Lake Vagli — every ten years the lake is emptied for maintenance and the town is visible.

Argentina, S.A.: Federación was submerged (residents relocated) in 1979 when the Salto Grande Dam was built, on the border with Uruguay.

Colombia, S.A.: the old colonial town of Guatavita was flooded to create a hydro-electric reservoir, Tominé Reservoir (1967)

Brazil, S.A. : the original city of Nova Ponte plus 8 other municipalities, due to the Nova Ponte Hydropower Plant dam and reservoir (1987-1994)

India: the town of Harsud, in Madhya Pradesh, flooded in 2005 for the Narmada Dam project, to provide hydroelectric power and irrigation for crops; the village of Khandal, the town of Tehri, and other villages, for the Tehri Dam (1990s)

Burma: tens of thousands of people forcibly relocated for the proposed TA Sarong hydroelectric dam and its reservoir, on the Salween River in northeastern Burma (2000).

Russia: the town of Atalanka and others along the the shores of the Angara (in Siberia), intentionally flooded in 1961 as a result of the construction downriver of several dams and the Bratsk hydroelectric station.

China: millions of people are expected to be transplanted from 153 towns and 4,500 villages (and several temples submerged) when the Three Gorges Dam is completed.


Helpful Sources

Re: dam-l towns submerged by lakes by Damon Scott

Underwater Towns — Scuba Diving Board (Cached here)

9 thoughts on “Drowned Towns (Book List)

  1. Very cool – I was meaning to look up stuff like this after Julie and I camped with some friends this summer on Flagstaff Lake — we didn’t get all the way to the end of the lake where the town used to be, but boated close enough to see the old fields and yards running down the hill into the water. There is something inherently creepy about drowned towns.

  2. I agree, Mike, about the creepy factor. And as a librarian, this might interest you: I just updated this 4-year-old posting with two new (juvenile) titles that someone on Fiction-L came across via another list; he posted them because he remembered this list from 2006! Yay for librarians!

  3. Hi–I found your fascinating list, and wanted to let you know I’ve included a link to it under “Further Links of Interest” on my website. I am the author of a novel, “Cascade,” coming from Viking Penguin in August, which is set in a fictional version of the towns that were taken to create the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts.


  4. Interesting. Also worth noting (?), a wonderful drowned town song, “Farewell Ball” by Mark Erelli, off his 2004 “Hillbilly Pilgram”.

  5. The old town of Bean Station, TN is a “drowned town”. It is in northeast TN about 50 miles from Knoxville, TN.

  6. Just a note: Boylston, West Boylston, Clinton and Sterling are all alive and well – only relatively small portions of the towns are under the Wachusett Reservoir. The Quabbin towns are authentically long gone, though.

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