While many people are familiar with Ohio's ghost towns, most are unaware that some of them may be hiding under popular lakes.
Flooding has been an issue in Ohio for centuries but thanks to the creation of dams in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, flooding is a lot less common today.
The small farming village of New Burlington was once a thriving community established in 1803. The town was even a station along the Underground Railroad. Located near the town of Wilmington in the southwestern corner of the state, the town was completely flooded in the 1970s. Keep reading to learn more about the fascinating history of this long-forgotten community.
Congress authorized Caesar Creek Lake under the Flood Control Act of 1938. In the hopes to contain heavy spring rainfall, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designed, built, and now operate Caesar Creek Lake.
In 1967, construction began along Caesar Creek, a tributary to the Little Miami River in southwest Ohio to provide additional flood control for the towns located along the river. The dam was an earth and rock-filled dam measuring approximately 165 feet high and 2,750 feet long. The site is an area of 10,550 acres and the watershed above the dam has an area of 237 square miles.
The design of this dam wasn't a mistake. The state and engineers were fully aware that this new construction would ultimately flood the small village and all that remained.
A man named John Baskin was working for the Cincinnati Enquirer in Cincinnati, Ohio at the time when he read the article about the planned flooding of the village. Baskin became intrigued by the community's history and the lives of its residents so he began to seek funding to write a book. In 1972, he was named an Alicia Patterson Foundation recipient and used the grant money to move to New Burlington where he could further investigate. He lived in an abandoned farmhouse as residents began to slowly relocate in the village's final year.
For those interested, New Burlington: The Life and Death of an American Village is available to read today. This interesting collection of stories explores the feelings of loss, acceptance, nostalgia, and disorientation experienced by the former residents as they faced the loss of their community. It has garnered relatively positive reviews over the years and was even adapted into a play in 2006.
Today, Caesar Creek State Park is a beautiful sprawling lake surrounded by green meadows. On a warm and sunny day, there are few places more inviting for a picnic or boat ride. Although this area is beautiful there is still an undeniable sadness and intrigue about the lost community of New Burlington.